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McIntosh ’75 Commentary

Here is some more commentary on Tracy McIntosh ’75.

We’ll call it the case of Tracy McIntosh. At 52, he was a husband and father of two teenage daughters residing in the affluent suburb of Media. The renowned professor was generating huge research grants at Penn for his important studies of the use of stem cells in repairing damage to brain and nerve tissues. His work held promise for stroke victims worldwide.

Beneath the starchy white lab coat, however, Dr. McIntosh had established another reputation as a womanizer who increasingly came close to crossing the line of sexual harasser. The university quietly investigated allegations and, in the interest of keeping the boatloads of grant money afloat, was even quieter in rebuking the professor.

There isn’t much here that we haven’t already covered in previous posts. I haven’t been able to find any updates on the criminal case. Here is information on the civil suit.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On August 3, 2005 @ 12:59 pm

David: Why are we carrying this sordid stuff?

#2 Comment By David On August 3, 2005 @ 2:55 pm

Two reasons:

1) It is newsworthy. “All things Eph” includes both our usual helpings of Ephtripe as well as the seedier side of (some) Eph’s behavior.

2) It raises the issue of how we can shape the “hearts and minds” of young (male) Ephs to behave better. Although I have nothing against the Take-Back-The-Night type events and traditional respect-each-other entry discussions that the College sponsors, I think more could be done. The fewer predators that Williams produces, the better.

#3 Comment By frank uible On August 3, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

David: I’m no psychologist, but until I receive new substantial and relevant evidence, I will believe that no “hearts-and-minds” shaping would have or will help this poor devil. Society needs to lock him up in order to protect others. The alternative (“horrors” to you liberals), which incidentally I do not advocate, is to fix him physically.

#4 Comment By rory On August 3, 2005 @ 10:39 pm

was david just called a liberal????

Now, the debate can begin: who’s more offended by that: david or the liberals? Let the fight begin!

:)

#5 Comment By frank uible On August 4, 2005 @ 4:29 am

rory: If one’s comment does not offend at least one of the coterie of wack jobs who frequent this blog, then the comment’s sole virtue is diaphaneity.

#6 Comment By (d)avid On August 4, 2005 @ 8:05 am

On the other hand, you can teach people cool words like “diaphaneity.”

I also learned that “wack job” (as in eccentric) is spelled differently from “whacked out” or “out of whack”.

One 27 word comment, two lessons. Either Mr. Uible should have a regular Ephblog column on writing and language, or my English skills are awful.

#7 Comment By (d)HTK On August 4, 2005 @ 8:30 am

Yes, Uible as a regular. Has a perfect understanding of the Ephblog readership. But he’d have to learn to spell wack (job) with an “h”. And stop using diaphaneity which isn’t in the Macintosh dictionary.

#8 Comment By frank uible On August 4, 2005 @ 1:08 pm

“Wack” is in the dictionary with an appropriate definition. Nevertheless, English was one of my worst subjects among a host of them.

#9 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On August 4, 2005 @ 8:25 pm

One might note that Penn seems not to have fulfilled its statutory obligation to report the incident in question to local police. As unbelievable as the behavior.

#10 Comment By David Kane On August 5, 2005 @ 8:38 am

Ken,

I think you’re wrong. I have read no reports that McIntosh’s behavior prior to this event was of the type that required, or even made reasonable, a report to police. At worst McIntosh was guilty of seeking romantic relationships with women other than his wife, some of whom were much younger than he, some of whom also worked at Penn, some of whom worked for him at Penn, some of whom were unreceptive to his advances and/or upset about them.

Now, if these allegations were true, then we might each make all sorts of moral judgments about the sort of man McIntosh is. But would any of these require a report to the police? I don’t think so.

It is not clear to me — although I am no expert on sexual harassment law! — that McIntosh was guilty of sexual harassment at Penn.

#11 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On August 5, 2005 @ 8:39 pm

David,

My comment was based on newspaper reports that the woman reported to Penn that she had been raped by McIntosh (in his campus office), that Penn conducted an investigation in which they determined the claim to be “without merit,” and that the woman then reported the incident to police.

Under that account, at the point the rape was reported to Penn, Penn would have had a legal obligation under the Violence Against Women Acts to make an immediate report to local police. There are usually also state reporting statues; in Kentucky, the failure to report would be a felony in itself.

Much, much more on this one later. I more than share your concern that Williams might (and must) do more.

#12 Comment By David On August 5, 2005 @ 8:57 pm

Hmmm. I guess you mean this report.

The victim, now enrolled in Penn’s veterinary program, went to police in November 2002 after officials at Penn dismissed her complaint, saying they could not substantiate her allegation, prosecutors said.

We obviously do not have enough detail to go on, but I would have imagined that the Penn police, if presented with such a complaint, would have followed the necessary law. Perhaps I give them too much credit? Isn’t the only reasonable response to the statement “I am have been raped”, a call to the police? Did the victim think that Penn was going to put McIntosh in jail? Also, how could it be that Penn “dismissed” her complaint? I find it impossible to believe that, in just two months, they did a full scale investigation and then, officially, “dismissed” her charges. I am more than ready to believe that they did not do whatever it is that she wanted them to do.

Side note: We need to keep separate the “investigation” that Penn did with regard to McIntosh’s behavior toward women in his lab from any “investigation” that Penn did with regard to the rape complaint.

Note also that that the woman is pursuing a civil action against both Penn and McIntosh. If she is successful in that, she (and her lawyer) might be due a large sum of money. (Although I have no idea what sort of fines/settlements are typically associated with these sorts of cases.)

#13 Comment By Ken Thomas ’93 On August 6, 2005 @ 12:43 am

David,

After spending the last few hours reviewing NOW and everyone else’s reports on Clery Act/VAWA compliance, I am both sorry and happy to say that my offhand comment resulted from the State of Kentucky taking campus rape reporting more seriously than the rest of the Country.

In brief, Clery/VAWA provides for reporting oversight by the Department of Education, and only a potential fine for non-compliance. The “immediate danger” reporting requirements are not nearly as clear as state laws, and actual compliance outside of states which have enacted their own legislation seems to be pretty close to zero. UC Davis, for instance, reported no rapes in ’96-’99, when officials with reporting responsibilities under Clery were aware of more than 450 reported rapes. NOW and other groups characterize campus rape as an unreported “invisible epidemic,” which seems fair from my three or four hours of reading, not to mention experience.

In institutions’ defense, most officials with reporting duties do not even seem aware that they have them, and (in the absence of strong state requirements) institutional policies generally seem to have not adjusted to requirements. In criticism, I have just read ten or more university officials anonymously quoted stating that they have obvious reasons for not wanting to accurately report crime on campus, especially sexual assalts.

Even among rape counselors– which I should mention I used to be– there is some level of debate about whether and when to report to police. The underlying issue is (to quote from current debate over pending legislation in Tennessee) whether a police investigation creates a further loss of control for the victim and, potentially, discourages victims from coming forward at all.

In this case, yes, before we can pass much judgment we need more details about what Penn did or did not do (in the rape investigation, at least). Was this originally reported to an official at the vet school, or to Penn campus police? My assumption on reading the above was that (at best) a disciplinary board at Penn conducted a non-police review, possibly without following an established procedure, and came to a decision that, for one reason or another, protected its own. Without police being given the opportunity to do their job, such as interviewing people at the restaurant shortly after the incident.

There are good reasons– including legal liability– that a rape investigation should be turned over to the police. To quote terms from several other reports I just read, campuses rarely possess the experience, resources and qualifications to meaningfully investigate and adjucate such accusations– not to mention defend themselves against the potential morass of complexities behind such accusations, including the kind of civil litigation about to occur here. It is common that campuses try to “do it on their own”, turning such investigations over to a mixture of faculty, adminstrators and personnel who simply don’t have the experience and insight to sort through these situations. The result can certainly be mishandling, lack of legal compliance, and potentially serious liability for the university.

That is not to fully endorse law enforcement, though from the Berkshire Co. DA forward, my general experience is that there are a lot of people in law enforcement extremely sensitive and competent in these areas. On the other hand, one of my pet peeve projects in the local county is to get police responders to do toxin scans when requested– and the reason I have that peeve is that I know several women who were refused that evidentiary opportunity.

Also notable, is that of the 10 Clery/VAWA non-compliance actions taken by the Dept. of Ed. from ’90 to 2000, one was against Penn.

Regardless, in this case, there’s an obvious great deal of ambiguity without much more information. The CBS3 report above states that the prosecutor said that “school officials” dismissed the claim, and if the prosecutor said exactly that, I assume he meant a university and not a police investigation occured. But do I trust a Philadelphia CBS3 reporter to have accurately represented what the prosecutor said?

My gut, however, is that Penn conducted an internal rape investigation and mishandled it. If there was any real substance to the previous harassment accusations, in the light of those harassment accusations being on file, mishandling of the rape investigation would leave them with both moral and legal liability.

Or perhaps things are not as they seem, much less as they seem to me. Perhaps the previous harassment accusations were trivial or ill-motivated, perhaps the woman’s rape complaint was ill-founded (or not originally presented to the university in earnest, or with the facts); perhaps something or many things changed by the time the woman went to police. I am unlikely to conclude any of the above in light of what I’ve read, and of the prosecutor’s actions and statements, etc. But it would be naive not to recognize the potential complexity and ambiguity of these cases, and that next-morning regrets do sometimes lead to a series of half-truths and a witchhunt.

I’d certainly like to see the testimony in this case and the evidence related to sodium pentabarbitol; quite a bit hangs on both. I’d like to know the substance of the previous harassment accusations, in detail. I’d also like to know a bit more about Mr. McIntosh, including his behavior at Williams. As I was in the midst of writing for another post, sexual abusers do not arise out of thin air; their behaviours have long histories, and if Mr. McIntosh did was he was convicted of doing, those behaviours began before Williams.

Unless sealed, the case filings should be available on WestLaw. I’ll see if I can sort through them later tonight or tomorrow.