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Sullivan Lays Out 'Processes' for Addressing Sexual Misconduct Issues After Criticisms of His Weinstein Defense

Winthrop Faculty Dean, Law School Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., speaks at a diploma ceremony in 2010.
Winthrop Faculty Dean, Law School Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., speaks at a diploma ceremony in 2010. By Karen G. Heredia
By Aidan F. Ryan, Crimson Staff Writer

In the wake of his announcement that he will serve on Harvey Weinstein’s legal team, Winthrop House Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. emailed Winthrop residents a list of resources for sexual assault and harassment issues late Monday night.

The email outlined several “processes” he and Stephanie R. Robinson — his wife and fellow Winthrop faculty dean — will put in place going forward, including designating Resident Dean Linda D.M. Chavers as the house’s “point person” for sexual assault issues. Monday’s email follows a separate message Sullivan sent Winthrop residents more than a week ago defending his decision to represent Weinstein.

“I write tonight after hearing, listening, reflecting, and processing what was shared with Stephanie and me,” Sullivan wrote Monday night. “We just finished another meeting with our tutor staff and Resident Dean, and we have worked up some suggestions and actions that we will be taking to move us forward so that all at Winthrop feel that this is a safe place and a happy and warm home.”

Sullivan wrote that students can consult Chavers and other house staff on issues of sexual assault.

“If any student feels as though the reporting structure of the House would inhibit them from accessing resources internally, know that Linda will be available to talk without any obligation to report the substance of your conversation internally,” Sullivan wrote.

Students will also be able to seek assistance from house tutors — all of whom have been briefed on resources for sexual misconduct issues — and non-house resources including the Dean of Students Office and the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, according to Sullivan’s email.

Though he announced Chavers will serve as the “point person” for sexual abuse matters, Sullivan told The Crimson he will still be a resource for students.

“The email explicitly includes the [Faculty Deans] as one of many resources,” Sullivan wrote in an email Tuesday morning.

Sullivan’s email to Winthrop students also said Robinson, who leads a “Women of Winthrop” group in the house, will incorporate programming that deals with issues of sexual assault and harassment into the group’s already-scheduled programming for the semester.

“The foregoing is not intended to be exhaustive,” Sullivan wrote regarding the information he outlined in his email. “Rather, it represents a starting point.”

Sullivan told The Crimson that the “processes” he laid out in his Monday email are not changes, but rather a list of resources available to students.

“It highlights the multiplicity of resources available to students who seek guidance on sexual assault/harassment issues,” he wrote. “Enhanced WOW programming represents a supplement to what the House has always done.”

The missive from Sullivan comes a few days after the lawyer and Harvard Law School professor criticized Harvard’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against Economics Professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. A Jan. 29 RealClearInvestigations article identifies Sullivan as Fryer’s lawyer, though Sullivan avoided directly answering multiple questions from The Crimson about his role in Fryer’s defense.

Sullivan has a history of representing high-profile clients, including former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and the family of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014. He is representing Weinstein in a Manhattan sexual abuse case resulting from allegations that Weinstein raped one woman and forcibly performed oral sex on another. A pretrial conference has been scheduled for March 7.

Correction: Feb. 6, 2019

A previous version of this article incorrectly characterized the allegations that Prof. Fryer is facing. He is facing allegations of sexual harassment, not assault.

—Staff writer Aidan F. Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AidanRyanNH.

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