Advocates: College prof accused in sex case must go
By Dan Cherry, November 21, 2017, Lenconnect
ADRIAN — Supporters of a woman who alleges sexual misconduct against her former high school instructor — now an Adrian College professor — three decades ago brought her message Monday to the college campus.
A dozen members of the public and the Red Light Initiative of Lenawee County — an organization formed to increase awareness of sexual assault, human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children in southeastern Michigan — held a vigil in front of the college to raise awareness and request the college dismiss one of its longtime employees, Thomas Hodgman.
Joelle Casteix alleges that as a 15-year-old student at a Catholic high school in California more than 30 years ago, Hodgman had a sexual relationship with her for approximately two years. A settlement in Casteix’s case and 92 others alleging abuse by priests and others throughout the Catholic diocese of Orange, California, eventually was reached. Hodgman was hired later by Adrian College.
In a statement dated Nov. 11, Adrian College reiterated it was made aware of the allegations against Hodgman in 2003 that included “inappropriate sexual activity during the mid- to late-1980s in the state of California.”
Adrian College stated it hired a law firm to investigate and confirmed the allegations.
“However,” the statement said, “to the best of our knowledge, the investigation further revealed that no criminal charges were filed and that Dr. Hodgman was never convicted of a crime. Additionally, we are not aware of any evidence that Dr. Hodgman engaged in any subsequent similar activity ... there was no evidence that Dr. Hodgman had engaged in any such conduct while at Adrian College” over the past 14 years.
The college’s statement also said Hodgman having tenure and being a member of the college’s faculty union prevents additional actions against him.
Claudia Vercellotti from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said Casteix and her advocates have been at the college four times since 2005 to bring their concerns to the college administration, starting with then-president Stanley Caine.
Vercellotti said Monday the college must do more to protect its students, take action by removing Hodgman from his position, asking the faculty union to act and encouraging Adrian students to come forward and talk about any sexual harassment, abuse or assault they may have experienced on campus.
“We are here to take a stand in this climate of change,” she said.
Brooke Borton from the Red Light Initiative on Monday read a statement from Casteix, telling her story and requesting transparency on the college’s part.
“It’s time for Jeffrey Docking and Adrian College to be transparent and stop protecting men who admit to molesting kids,” Borton read on behalf of Casteix. “For the past 30 years, (Hodgman) has haunted me. I refuse to be haunted anymore.”
Email and phone messages were left with Hodgman seeking comment.