UK

Trinity Hall: Cambridge college head 'steps back' over handling of sex complaints

Revd Dr Jeremy Morris Image copyright Trinity Hall
Image caption Dr Jeremy Morris is the master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge

The head of a Cambridge college has stepped back from his duties after allegations he mishandled a series of sexual misconduct complaints.

Dr Jeremy Morris, the master of Trinity Hall, has agreed to move aside while an internal review into procedures is under way.

It comes after both students and staff were accused of misconduct in recent years.

Trinity Hall said the decision was subject to further consultation.

Dr Morris has come under pressure since the BBC found an academic who had been accused of sexually harassing 10 students had retained some college privileges because of an internal error.

Dr Peter Hutchinson later resigned from Trinity Hall in November 2019 after more than 1,300 staff and students protested that he had been allowed to keep his post.

It emerged this week that he had published an erotic novel about students the year nearly a dozen complaints of harassment had been made against him.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Staff left their jobs at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, with "serious" concerns over the handling of misconduct allegations

The BBC learned at least three staff had also left the college with "serious" concerns over how the situation had been handled.

This week, Dr Morris was accused of mishandling multiple complaints of sexual assault brought by female students against a male student, who denied the allegations, according to an investigation by the Tortoise news website.

Dr Morris is also alleged to have allowed a senior member of academic staff to remain in his job for five months without any restrictions on his role after he was accused of sexual assault by a student.

The senior academic staff member - who strongly denies the allegations, which were reported to police with no further action - has now agreed to temporarily withdraw from his duties, Trinity Hall said in a statement.

'Deeply distressed'

Current and former students have expressed scepticism over Dr Morris' decision to step back, with one telling the BBC they have "no faith" in the college's current processes.

Over 500 Cambridge students, staff and alumni have signed an open letter calling for Dr Morris to resign.

The mother of one of the alleged victims has called on Dr Morris to resign entirely for failing to make the "safeguarding of the young people under [his] care the most important priority," in an open letter published by Varsity, Cambridge's student newspaper.

Rory Kent, 23, a Trinity Hall alumnus who recently chaired a student meeting at the college, said the community has been "deeply distressed" by recent events.

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