CCSU professor resigns following sexual misconduct allegations

ccsu professor resigns following sexual misconduct allegations - CCSU professor resigns following sexual misconduct allegations

NEW BRITAIN – One of two Central Connecticut State University professors given dismissal notices in January following the revelation of sexual misconduct allegations, officially resigned from the university.

Joshua Perlstein, who was hired in 1992, resigned before his termination hearing, CCSU spokesperson Janice Palmer said.

As stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement between the school and employees, an employee must be dismissed to start the termination process, Palmer has said. A termination hearing is held as part of the process for both sides to present their case on the matter before the final employment status decision is made.

Perlstein was placed on paid administrative leave in April 2018 after the school’s student newspaper, The Recorder, detailed allegations against him. He had an annual salary of $97,847, Palmer said.

The second professor accused of the sexual misconduct, Thomas Delventhal, who was hired in 1998, was fired in May following a termination hearing as part of the dismissal process, Palmer said. He is appealing the decision.

“It has been a long process, especially for the sexual assault survivors and the Theatre Department students and faculty,” said CCSU President Zulma Toro in a statement. “The investigation and termination proceedings have been frustrating and challenging, but we are moving forward.

“We have learned a great deal and made significant changes in personnel, policies, and procedures – with much more to come. I am especially encouraged that a national expert in diversity and equity issues in higher education will be joining us in two weeks.”

The dismissal process of both men began after a report from the law firm Shipman & Goodwin that began in April 2018 that was released in January. Perlstein allegedly attempted to kiss a student on the lips, telling her not to pull away, sent sexual text messages demanding the student answer her phone and said a relationship with a student lasted only a couple weeks when it had lasted from 2013 to 2014, the report said.

Delventhal, who Perlstein attempted to deflect some of the allegations onto, admitted to kissing the neck and/or forehead of five students in a “fatherly way,” the report said. Delventhal had unusual practice in his classes, such as having “massage circles” that involved students laying their heads in the laps of other students, and would attend parties with students, the report said.

The law firm’s investigation also found that the CCSU Office of Diversity & Equity, and the Human Resources Department, which were charged with handling the sexual misconduct complaints alleged in the report, failed to address them and properly investigate them.

Toro announced in April the school hired Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barcelo to start July 1 for a one year period to lead the Office of Diversity and Equity and help implement a 15-step action plan, which includes reengineering those departments.

Barcelo recently overhauled the sexual harassment policies and implemented a new diversity plan at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as part of a 30-year career in high education at several universities across the country, Toro said.

Two employees for the Office of Diversity and Equity are also in the process of being hired, Palmer said.

The school also hired a Sibson Consulting firm at a cost not to exceed $170,000 to reorganize the office of Diversity and Equitry, the Human Resources department, and Office of the Ombudsperson, which oversees issues related to Title IX, Palmer said.

Attempts to reach both Perlstein and Delventhal for comment were unsuccessful.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or cpaullin@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Thursday, 20 June 2019 12:30. Updated: Thursday, 20 June 2019 12:33.

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