NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s Old Dominion University will commission an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct against a former visiting professor, school president John Broderick said in a letter to the university community on Thursday.
The allegations are against Blake Bailey, a visiting professor to the state school in Norfolk from 2010 to 2016 and author of a widely noted biography of the writer Philip Roth.
Bailey is already facing allegations elsewhere. Earlier this year, two former middle school students in New Orleans and a book publishing executive alleged that Bailey had sexually assaulted them. He’s denied any wrongdoing.
The Virginian-Pilot reported earlier this month that several women told the newspaper that Bailey sexually harassed and abused them during his time at Old Dominion University. The women also said administrators failed to adequately respond to their concerns.
“It is clear the university’s initial response caused pain to members of our community,” Broderick wrote in Thursday’s letter.
Broderick said ODU is awaiting guidance from Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General regarding who should conduct the review.
“It is essential to me that we obtain a truly independent report on the matter and that we be able to assure our campus community that sexual harassment and other misconduct will not be tolerated,” Broderick wrote.
Bailey’s lawyer, Billy Gibbens, told The Virginian-Pilot earlier this month that the allegations are false and not worthy of publication.
Bailey faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment and abuse before the Pilot’s reporting on ODU. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the AP among others featured extensive, on-the-record quotes from former students of Bailey while he was a New Orleans middle school teacher in the 1990s.
The former students alleged a pattern of inappropriate behavior while he was a teacher, and that he later pursued sexual relationships. Two former students and book publishing executive Valentina Rice have alleged he assaulted them. Rice’s account first appeared in The New York Times and was confirmed by Rice to the AP.
In late April, Gibbens, Bailey’s attorney, described the allegations as “false and unsubstantiated.”
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