Skip to main site content.


World-famous ethics professor named in sexual harassment complaint

By WITW Staff on May 23, 2016

Yale University professor Thomas Pogge is a giant the academic field of ethics. He studied under philosopher John Rawls, publishes in leading academic journals, runs global anti-poverty and health initiatives, and even gives TED Talks. But he is also, as of late last year, accused of using that position of power to manipulate young female students into sexual relationships and punishing them if they resist, according to a federal civil rights complaint filed in October by a former student alleging Title IX discrimination, according to BuzzFeed News. A string of allegations of sexual harassment by women against Pogge dates back to 1990, and includes a claim that Yale offered to buy the silence of one victim with $2,000. Yale and Pogge declined to comment for the BuzzFeed story. The suit also accuses Yale of violating Title VI, claiming that Pogge targets foreign women of color, which constitutes race discrimination.

Fernanda Lopez Aguilar, who filed the complaint, said she took a class with Pogge as a junior at Yale and asked him to be her thesis supervisor. Their relationship grew increasingly familiar, so much so that Pogge asked to stay with her at an apartment she and her boyfriend were sharing one summer in Washington, D.C. Pogge offered her a fellowship position in his prestigious Global Justice Program and soon invited her along to a conference in Chile, where she was surprised to find he had booked only one hotel room for the two of them to share, she says. Lopez Aguilar alleges that Pogge made sexual advances toward her in the hotel room, and once she rejected them, she quickly lost favor with her mentor and her position with the GJP. She filed a harassment complaint with the university, but school officials only offered to settle with her for $2,000 after finding that Pogge “failed to uphold the standards of ethical behavior,” but that his behavior did not constitute sexual harassment.

Now Lopez Aguilar and other female students she connected with after her ordeal have banded together to ask the Department of Education to investigate the famed philosopher.

Read the full story at BuzzFeed.


Professor sues Columbia University over alleged sexual harassment, discrimination

Women politicians in France declare they will no longer tolerate sexual harassment