Editor’s Note: This article contains mention of sexual harassment and assault.
The formal investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against former Organ Professor James David Christie have been completed by Giffen & Kaminski LLC, a Cleveland-based law firm. They concluded that “there is evidence that Mr. Christie in all likelihood grossly abused his position of trust and violated Oberlin College’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Sexual Misconduct Policy, and professional code of conduct,” wrote Acting Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen in an email to the Review.
During the full investigation, the firm interviewed more than 50 people associated with the Organ department and received 205 responses to a climate survey from current and former students.
Rebecca Mosely, director for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, thanks all who were willing to share their experiences and ensures current and former students that their voices were heard.
“We are sorry that for many of you we fell short of our values and our mission,” she wrote in a Feb. 21 email to those who participated in the survey. “We are grateful to each of you who have pledged your continued support for Oberlin College, the Conservatory, and the Organ Department. We take seriously your charge that we lead the music world by defining artistic excellence in the academy as one that is free of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and abusive treatment of others.”
Quillen also emphasized that Oberlin is appreciative of student voices and will continue to consider student input as the Organ department moves forward.
“Students are actively engaged in their lessons and have expressed their appreciation for the collaborative approaches to teaching this semester,” Quillen wrote in an email to the Review. “Students have offered thoughtful reflections and recommendations on their experience and we are actively listening.”
While the investigative process was underway, Oberlin implemented several new programs and trainings to help prevent such actions from occurring again. The Board of Trustees created the Sexual Misconduct Policy subcommittee of their pre-existing audit committee; all trustees and staff were required get up-to-date with their discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policy training.
Since Christie’s resignation, the Organ department has been joined by visiting professors Christa Rakich and Arvid Gast.