After an associate professor was twice found in violation of the University's harassment policy, female students continued to log complaints against him but he received no further punishment from the University.
Charles C. Doyle, associate professor in the Department of English, was found in violation in February of 2001 and 2002, according to documents obtained by The Red & Black through an open records request. The documents further reveal complaints in September 2002, February 2004 and November 2004 against him that did not violate the policy.
He was found in violation for sending e-mails to female students that they said made them feel uncomfortable. Doyle was placed on a two-year probation and agreed "not to initiate any electronic communications with students."
But two years later, Doyle was told a comment he accidentally posted on an English department listserv to a female student "violates the terms of the Feb. 8, 2002 agreement you reached with me concerning sexual harassment charges against you," Elizabeth Bailey, associate director for Legal Affairs, wrote in an e-mail to Doyle in February 2004.
Despite violating the "agreement," there are no recordings of Doyle receiving punishment.
The final complaint, filed in November 2004, details a secondhand accusation that Doyle sent "inappropriate emails ...flirtatious emails" to a female undergraduate student. Doyle "denied emphatically" he sent the e-mail, and Bailey "advised no further action unless stud. came forward," according to the documents.
Bailey said the opposite Jan. 30 in an interview with Red & Black reporters.
"We wouldn't make a student come forward and file a complaint necessarily," she said. "If I get enough information from someone that is enough for me to go forward to investigate something, I'm going to do that."
In an e-mail to The Red & Black Friday, Doyle responded to the various complaints.
"In none of the cases, according to the testimony (as Bailey relayed it to me), did any student feel threatened - sexually or in any other way - by me," Doyle wrote. "Rather, in the first two cases, I had made offhand, joking remarks that the students who filed the complaints found offensive. I like my students, and I try to be considerate of their sensibilities (which, of course, I'm not always even aware of), but obviously I failed in those two instances."
Doyle's first violation stems from e-mails that made a female student "uncomfortable in (her) educational environment, particularly when he made several sexual remarks" according to a letter from Bailey. Bailey "recommended a sexual harassment training video" for Doyle.
E-mails began when Doyle sent a message to his student saying "Merry Xmas -Charlie Doyle" on Dec. 21, 2000, according to documents. Doyle started signing the e-mails "love" after the woman replied to his e-mail signing "love."
The e-mails escalated.
"Good luck on the (Dance) Marathon! Will it feature galliards and pavans and minuets? Hey, if I come to watch and you are there in a G-string dancing around a pole, I may get embarrassed (or, I may get intrigued!)," Doyle wrote Feb. 1, 2001.
"Hey, How's things in your beautiful young life?" he wrote a week later.
The woman responded 26 minutes later.
"Dr. Doyle, I appreciate all that you have done for me as my professor for a year, but I am starting to feel a little uncomfortable with your frequency of contacting me. I hope that you understand."
Doyle wrote back the next day.
"I'm really, REALLY sorry I have made you feel uncomfortable! You are somebody whom I like and admire a great deal, as a student and as a person. Since you presumably won't be my student any more . I'd started thinking of you as a (casual) friend."
After Bailey met with Doyle to address the student's complaint, he wrote Bailey a follow-up letter.
"I cannot believe that (she) imagines that I simply started contacting her out of the blue! In fact, we were sort of friends, in an non-curricular fashion - a casual, friendly, teasing, e-mail-chatting relationship such as I have with many former students, colleagues, and others," he wrote in the documents.
A second student said Doyle "made inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, via electronic communication, that made her uncomfortable in her learning environment," Bailey wrote Feb. 8, 2002.
Bailey "determined that there is evidence that you did engage in inappropriate behavior in violation of the University's sexual harassment policy," and "determined that this is a matter that can be resolved informally" if he agreed to a two-year probation, documents show.
For probation, Doyle was required to meet with Howard N. Hilton, then the English Department head, to review his "conformity" to the policy. He had to attend a sexual harassment training session and could not initiate e-mail communication with students, documents state.
According to the records, Doyle sent the following e-mails to the female student:
On Oct. 9, 2001, he wrote, "Somehow, I wouldn't have guessed you are a dancer. But then, if you are an EX-Christian . When I imagine you dancing, on the basis of your description, all I can envision is 'Flash Dance.' Is THAT what you do? (Those are quite picturesque imaginings, I must say!)"
On Oct. 19, 2001, he sent an e-mail stating, "My dear, I loved reading your meditation on the various songs - even though you positively bristled at me for wondering (parenthetically) whether you live in a sorority house (hey, LOTS of hot blonde chicks live in sorority houses; some of them are even smart)! ... Have you eaten at Weaver D's . If you haven't, I'll treat you to lunch there sometime (maybe next semester)."
On Oct. 22, 2001, he wrote, "It was spectacular: From where I was sitting during the test this morning ... all I could see of you was a profusion of golden hair cascading into the aisle!"
In an e-mail sent Jan. 22, 2002 - the same day as a meeting between Bailey and Doyle - Doyle wrote to Bailey, "You mentioned that many students don't know how to have an out-of-class friendship with a 58-year-old professor. I think maybe the age-gap is the reason WHY it didn't sufficiently occur to me that a student might take seriously anything flirtatious-sounding in my communications - such rhetoric as I might use in chatting with my numerous nieces and off-campus friends between the ages 10 and 60 (of course, the difference is that they KNOW me, and my intentions)."
In a Jan. 31, 2002 letter to Bailey, Doyle explained the inconvenience of not being able to communicate with students by e-mail: "Besides, it would hardly be reasonable, if I am a threat to students, to require me to do all my communicating with them in person, in the privacy of my office!"
After the sexual harassment training session, Doyle wrote an e-mail to Bailey to complain the video did not sufficiently explain harassment, documents show.
The third complaint against Doyle referenced his teaching style and came while he was on probation, according to documents.
"Doyle made inappropriate sexual comments during his class," a female student said to Bailey.
Following the complaint, Bailey wrote to Hilton and recommended in a September 2002 e-mail the "matter should be handled at the departmental level instead of through the University's sexual harassment procedures."
According to the documents, Bailey noted several comments the student said Doyle made in class, including, "play like woman - more than one climax," in Hamlet "'play me like a pipe' means 'suck my dick' and (Doyle) went on and on about that phrase," a "fig. looked female genetalia (sic) - Anthony and Cleopatra" and "taking her 'hard and fast' referring to two characters."
Doyle was found not in violation of the policy as an "academic freedom issue," Tom Jackson, vice president for public affairs, said Friday in an interview.
Doyle wrote an e-mail to The Red & Black Friday.
"That is the kind of complaint which, even if it is not pursued ardently by the Legal Affairs office, threatens academic freedom and the quality of teaching," Doyle wrote.
The question of inappropriate e-mails reappeared in early 2004 after Doyle sent a personal message to a female student on a public forum, documents state.
"You looked heart-wrenchingly beautiful strolling briskly down the Lumpkin hill this afternoon! Hope you're having a good mid-week . Love, Charlie," he wrote in an e-mail on the English graduate students' listserv on Feb. 18, 2004.
Bailey noted on a printed copy of the message that the comment was "borderline for trigger. further discip. action."
The next day Doyle wrote to Hilton: "In the first place, my period of 'probation' (with the strictures appertaining to it) is over. In the second place, there was obviously no 'sexual' content in my note, and no 'harassment.' (The student) is a close friend - perhaps something like a daughter to me."
"She and her boyfriend occasionally socialize with my wife and me, and we (in turn) have dined with them and with various members of her family."
Bailey responded on Feb. 23, 2004.
"If you review the letter, it is clear that the two year probation is a separate and distinct provision from the one dealing with electronic communications. Therefore, you must not 'initiate electronic communications with students,'" Bailey wrote in an e-mail.
The female student spoke with Alexis Hart, then adjunct and assistant director of the writing program, about Doyle, documents show.
Hart wrote an e-mail on Feb. 24, 2004 to Hilton, saying: "She (the student) stated that she was previously unaware of the boundary that was being crossed in her correspondence and friendship with Dr. Doyle but that seeing such correspondence through the eyes of others made her realize that such personal remarks were inappropriate. She is anxious to clear the air and put an end to this kind of correspondence, but she told me she would be uncomfortable addressing Dr. Doyle directly, so I suggested that she go to you."
Hilton responded Feb. 27, 2004 to Hart after a meeting the student had with Doyle.
"Dr. Doyle then stated that he wished he could do something to make the situation better but that he did not think a public apology would be worthwhile, that public evisceration wasn't legal and that he might think about resigning, but he could not afford to do so," Hilton wrote.
The final complaint was raised by a graduate student in the Classics department who said Doyle gave her gifts, including animal crackers, and wrote a note, saying, "You are so beautiful," documents record.
The student met with Nancy Felson, a Classics professor, on Nov. 4, 2004 to report a complaint. The student said an undergraduate female "had gotten inappropriate emails (last spring) flirtatious emails."
Bailey met with the graduate student and noted on Nov. 11, 2004 the student "felt uncomfortable," "spoke with him (Doyle) a couple of times" and that Doyle was "leaving things on [her] desk, food" approximately five times. One time, the documents note, Doyle said she "looked like an elf," and the student said she was "disgusted." Later, Doyle responded to her and told her he didn't mean to offend her, according to the documents.
"I really think your (sic) beautiful," he said.
As with the previous three complaints, there is no documentation of punishment against Doyle.
Despite the controversy, Doyle said he will continue to relate to students in the same way, he wrote in an e-mail to The Red & Black.
"Even though the accusations a few years ago, and their prosecution, proved devastatingly dejecting (and, now, their revival!) I have tried not to be 'chilled' in the way I do my teaching," he wrote.