Harvard Teaching Fellow Charged with Sexual Assault

Harvard teaching fellow Bradley J. Spencer was arrested earlier this month on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman on the Red Line.

At a hearing Monday, he pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault and battery, according to Cara O’Brien, a spokesperson for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office.

According to the Cambridge Chronicle, Spencer, who is a teaching fellow in the Near Eastern and Languages and Civilizations Department, was charged with the assault of a 32-year-old Cambridge resident. The victim reported that she noticed a man standing unusually close to her on the MBTA. She then felt something push against her crotch and looked down to see a hand close to her crotch.

The victim said that she was too surprised to react to Spencer’s alleged assault but said that she managed to take a picture with her cell phone before getting off the T and notifying the police, according to the Chronicle.

Spencer’s bail was set at $1,000, according to O’Brien, and he paid it and was released after his arraignment Monday. Spencer was returned to jail following a hearing Tuesday morning, on $5,000 bail this time with the condition that, if he is released, he is to stay away from the MBTA and other forms of public transportation. During the hearing, a probation officer informed Judge Sevelin Singleton III that the probation office would be able to outfit Spencer with an electronic tracking bracelet. Singleton ordered Spencer to appear in court again Friday morning, when he will receive such a bracelet.

Spencer’s defense attorney, Steven Linehan, declined to comment.

Spencer, 36, is a NELC graduate student studying Semitic philology. This year, Spencer taught a section for the course Ancient Near East 104: “Babylon.” Spencer will not be teaching next semester according to an emailed statement from University spokesperson Jeff Neal.

“Generally speaking, in cases where a student has been accused of a serious crime, that student is often asked to leave campus during the course of the investigation and legal proceedings, pending their outcome,” Neal wrote.

Students in Spencer’s section characterized him as considerate and able to run section well.

“I was a little surprised because he really is such a nice guy,” said Tyler G. Funk ’12, a student in Spencer’s section. “In his sections he does a great job of running the entire class.”

Paul A. Bowden ’13, another student in his section, said that his teaching method was not anything out of the ordinary.

“He was a little weird—a couple of friends in the section had agreed he was strange,” Bowden said. “But everyone at Harvard is a little weird, so I didn’t find it out of the norm for him to be bizarre.”

Students also described Spencer as religious, noting his tendencies to get sidetracked by religious discussions.

“A couple times half the section was about him going over stuff in the Bible,” Bowden said.

Peter Machinist, the director of undergraduate studies for NELC, declined to comment since the matter is under criminal investigation.

—Julie M. Zauzmer contributed reporting.

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