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Thursday, September 3, 2020

A case study in lying to protect a serial abuser: Luis Jaime Castillo Butters and his "friends" [Updated Sept 6, and with dozens of comments]





Late last June, in a post entitled "Andean Archaeology Has a #MeToo Problem," I reported on my investigation of misconduct by Peruvian archaeologist and former culture minister Luis Jaime Castillo Butters. I have posted a number of additional stories and updates since, including evidence that Castillo attempted to get Yale University to give him an honorary PhD in exchange for signing off on the return of the Machu Picchu artifacts to Peru.

From pretty much the first day of the first report, Castillo and a group of his defenders and apologists have worked overtime to brand the survivors of his abuse liars and attack the credibility of my reporting. This included mocking the survivors, who asked for and were accorded confidentiality because they feared retaliation not only from the powerful Castillo but also his supporters and, I hate to say it, sycophants. For example, I used letters to identify the survivors (Student A, B, etc.) and the faculty members who confirmed their stories (Professor A, B, etc.) One well known colleague of Castillo's changed his Twitter description to read "Student Z" in clear disdain for the suffering of the victims.

This craven disrespect for survivors of abuse was met with an open letter to Castillo from some of them, which I also published on this blog. Let me quote the first three paragraphs of the letter:


"We are some of the women whom you have dismissed time and time againwhose boundaries you have negated, whose humanity you have disrespected, whose bodies you have exploited, whose innocence you have stripped. We are not all of the people you have damaged. You should know that there are many more. But we are enough.

We listened to your interview. We heard how you again attempted to silence us in the ways only you know best. But your threats won’t work. They never really did, did they? Deep down, you know that. We never stayed quiet. We told many throughout the years and will continue to break the silence.

You lash out at us for being anonymous. Because it makes you feel threatened. Because the tables have turned. And you feel your power slipping away. You fear our anonymity because you think you know who we are, but you can’t be sure. After all, you have wronged so many women." 



In addition to trying to discredit the survivors, Castillo and his defenders launched a scurrilous campaign of lies about me, the reporter who carried the messages from the victims, in a further attempt to help the powerful archaeologist whose good graces--in many cases--the defenders had relied upon in their own careers. Indeed, this is the central cowardice I have seen in so many #MeToo cases I have reported on. I described it this way in a recent Tweet:




The central lie Castillo's defenders and apologists have told about me is that during my reporting I "relentlessly harassed" one of Castillo's students, whom I will call Student L to protect her identity (even though she herself is at the origin of this lie.)

Here is how I described the situation between Castillo and this student in my original report:


"Castillo is known to have assisted with the placement of Peruvian students, many who worked under him for a number of years, in top-tier graduate archaeology programs in the United States. A few of my Peruvian sources allege that Castillo tells young students that if they want to attend major universities abroad, like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, he can make it happen if they work for him.

"Witnesses allege that Castillo has carried on a longstanding sexual relationship with one such student. This student and his other former students doe not wish to talk about the situation, so I am not naming her to protect her privacy. However, Castillo routinely referred to this student as 'mi mujer' ('my woman'), sometimes even to archaeologists who do not know him very well."


In a recorded interview with Perú21, of which I published a complete transcript in the blog post that featured the open letter from the survivors, Castillo makes reference to this allegation (With thanks to the translators who helped me post both the Spanish and English versions):


"There are also three direct allegations saying that I have had relationships with students. One of them is a—with a person who is referred to in the text as "my woman," so that I ... [unintelligible]. That student—this girl is a student of mine who is doing her Ph.D. in the United States, right?, with whom I have a very deep academic and familial relationship—very deep. [Unintelligible] very close, yes? And she is outraged that the guy pointed her out because he contacted her, she rejected him, and he contacted her again, harassed her for information and when she did not give him the same story [as the others], he put out this [unintelligible] saying that she was my lover and that because she was my lover, she had obtained all kinds of— what are they called?—of academic successes. Which is an insult. [Unintelligible]."


I find it very interesting that Castillo immediately knew who "mi mujer" referred to. Be that as it may, this falsehood, that I harassed Student L, has become a widespread meme for Castillo defenders and apologists (and others who claim they are not endorsing Castillo's behavior but still feel the need to attack the reporter.)

Reporters must have tough skins to survive the kind of abuse we are subject to (eg those journalists who cover Donald Trump), but no one likes being lied about, and I am no exception.  But more serious than their effects on me are the effects on the survivors, who are basically being told that they are liars too. The main effect is to enable the abusers, and those who continue to spread lies--despite being told that what they are saying is false--are complicit in the abuse.

Let me give one such example, that of Ilana Johnson, a professor of anthropology at Sacramento City College (no I am not "doxing" her, this is from her own Web page.)

Johnson has worked with Castillo in Peru at his famous site of San Jose de Moro and is very close to Castillo's group at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP.) She has been very active in spreading the lies about my interactions with Student L, and  this week I insisted that she stop. Here are the emails, to which she did not respond; they quote the Tweets she has posted about me.


My first email to Ilana Johnson:






My second email to Ilana Johnson, correcting an omission:






It's no surprise, but not only has Ilana Johnson not corrected the lies she either told or passed on from others, but she is also apparently talking to UC Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin's attorney, David Scher, about being a witness in Kurin's $10 million defamation suit against me for my accurate reporting on her misconduct (please scroll this blog for numerous stories and updates about that.)


So who is the source of the lies about my harassing Student L? I believe it is Student L herself, a student and protege of Castillo's, who has her own interests in protecting him and her own reputation. That is fine, but when she lies about what happened, she forfeits my sympathy, at least, even though I have still refrained from naming her.

So here is the entire exchange I had with Student L,  except that it was never an "exchange" at all. I never once talked to her.






As I said, Student L never responded, but a communications person from her university got in touch after my second email:





That was it. After I was contacted by the university representative, I did not try to contact Student L again. Where is the relentless harassment, and all the rest? If Student L, Castillo, or anyone else has evidence that there was anything more to it than this, let them produce the "receipts," as they say.

For those who are unsure about all this, it is routine for a journalist working on a #MeToo story to contact possible victims and see if they want to talk. If they do not respond the first time, it is normal to try once again (in my experience, survivors are often taking time to think about it, and often do respond  the second time.)  This is the way all #MeToo reporters work: If you read  the books by Ronan Farrow (The New Yorker) and Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor (The New York Times) who all won Pulitzers for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein, you will see in detail  how reporters  approach sensitive sources. In the Weinstein case, the reporters contacted the victims again and again to try to urge them to tell their stories, although always respectfully. Their methods were much more "intrusive" than mine have ever been.

In the case of Student L, as I explained to her university representative, it was always possible that she might have to be named, if it could be demonstrated that she got her university slot through patronage and not through merit. That would have been unethical on Castillo's part, and in fact everyone involved in this  sorry saga knows the identity of Student L. Nevertheless, I have not felt it necessary to name her myself.


Let's end on the main point: Ilana Johnson, and all of those in Castillo's circle who have attacked survivors and told lies about this reporter, have made themselves--wittingly or unwittingly--complicit in his misconduct. I ask all of them to find the courage to dissociate themselves from a man whose long years of abuse has caused so much damage, and left Peruvian archaeology hostage to a bully who does not deserve the power he has accumulated.


Afterthoughts Sept 3: It's okay for women to lie?

I've been pondering the first two comments on this post, and I realize my response is probably inadequate. I thought that by providing proof that lies were being told and spread on behalf of a sexual abuser, colleagues would get the point. What I failed to realize is that if a woman lies and enables a predator, and if a male reporter calls out those lies, that is still bullying in some minds. What a Victorian corruption of the #MeToo and women's rights movements. We put women on pedestals, even if they are enabling abusers, and pretend they are somehow other than normal humans. It's dishonest.

This, by the way, is what the Danielle Kurin case is all about. I don't see anyone coming to her defense, at least not publicly, because the evidence that she enabled harassment and assault by her ex-husband--by retaliating against students who reported it--is so very clear and well documented. So yes, women, even brilliant scholars, can get the wrong end of the stick, blatantly enable abusers to protect themselves, and become complicit in the abuses. 

The strange thing is, everyone knows this, but some still want to use enablers as shields against the truth. This is the whole point, and I stick by my reporting on it.


I see that someone has just made a forceful and eloquent comment which sums the issues up much better than I can. I am pulling it up here to make sure it gets seen.


"What’s ironic about all these people who suddenly worry about Balter damaging his reputation is that they had ruined it already with their lies before he made even the first report. Exposing these lies is what anyone would do, especially a reporter. A reporter’s credibility is of utmost importance, especially when reporting on MeToo issues. The fact that these commenters made no comment on the egregious and obvious lies shows they do not value truth, but factional politicking. These lies caused a lot of trauma among Castillo survivors. We begged Balter to publish the receipts so everyone can see the truth of what’s happening: Luis Jaime Castillo’s accomplices, enablers, and beneficiaries are desperately telling lies to discredit Balter and the survivors. They are not the victims, but the victimizers. Remember that white women were some of the biggest defenders of the patriarchy during the women’s suffrage movement. Being a woman does not automatically make you a victim. Indeed, it’s sexist and paternalistic to play the victim trope. “White women tears” phenomenon has led to a lot of atrocities in history. Similar things are happening here."



Update Sept 6, 2020: Castillo's giant loyalty test is in full swing.


As I've reported before, Castillo is leaning on everyone he can to write testimonials on his behalf, to PUCP investigative bodies etc., and his followers are circulating bogus letters on his behalf disguised as letters supporting students. He is  defending himself in his classes, thus intimidating students, and keeping a close eye on who supports him and who does not. In that kind of atmosphere, only the brave will speak out. And many already have.

89 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Balter, Please keep your focus where it can be most productive: on being a voice for those who have experienced sexual harassment and who do not feel that they can speak out publicly. Your continued commentaries on "Student L" (an extraordinary scholar in her own right), now Dr. Johnson (a widely admired colleague), and the anonymous comments maligning other very accomplished early career archaeologists that you have allowed to be published on prior blog posts, are undermining your efforts to support women. This is eroding your reputation in the archaeological community. Leave these women alone.

Michael Balter said...

My response to the above comment: As they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink

Michael Balter said...

My response to the above comment: As they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink

Anonymous said...

You need to reflect on your optics here Michael. This is really ugly.

Michael Balter said...

You know, I stick by my comment about leading horses to water.

Two academics, Ilana Johnson and Student L, have either lied or spread lies about very important matters. I have produced the "receipts" that this happened and is still happening. I am not interested in "optics," I am interested in the truth. As I explained at length, what's "ugly" is to lie to protect an abuser and disregard the survivors. I can't make it any clearer than that, other than to add that the tolerance for lying about such matters seems to be high in some corners of academia and that is very damaging.

Anonymous said...

(I hope this gets approved because I mean no disrespect)

These women are not claiming for LJC's innocence, they're condemning him.

They're not even criticizing your previous work (as one of them made clear in the exchange with one woman that expressed her trust in you because of the help you provided). They're asking that you be careful with your conduct around possible victims and women in general.

I know that you meant no harm in any of your exchanges with them (no matter who were they) but the fact is that you can't lower yourself at the same level of an abuser (eg. "he outed her first") and refuse to apologize for your mistakes (mistakes that you have crearly made) and this is something a MeToo reporter cannot neglect.

I agree with above's comment, you can and should rise above the situation and stop antagonizing young scholars.

This is, so we are clear, the opinion of someone that supports your work, but believes that *your* focus should be on the abusers.

Anonymous said...

What’s ironic about all these people who suddenly worry about Balter damaging his reputation is that they had ruined it already with their lies before he made even the first report. Exposing these lies is what anyone would do, especially a reporter. A reporter’s credibility is of utmost importance, especially when reporting on MeToo issues. The fact that these commenters made no comment on the egregious and obvious lies shows they do not value truth, but factional politicking. These lies caused a lot of trauma among Castillo survivors. We begged Balter to publish the receipts so everyone can see the truth of what’s happening: Luis Jaime Castillo’s accomplices, enablers, and beneficiaries are desperately telling lies to discredit Balter and the survivors. They are not the victims, but the victimizers. Remember that white women were some of the biggest defenders of the patriarchy during the women’s suffrage movement. Being a woman does not automatically make you a victim. Indeed, it’s sexist and paternalistic to play the victim trope. “White women tears” phenomenon has led to a lot of atrocities in history. Similar things are happening here.

Anonymous said...

The fact that someone is a "young scholar" does not make them above reproach (by the way, Ilana Johnson is a *department chair* and *professor*, so not a "young scholar" or "early career scholar" by any stretch). Some feminists have thin commitments to justice when it requires one to take risks or make their own sacrifices. To make a plea for attention to so-called optics is paternalistic and condescending; there are actual women (and others) who have been victimized by this powerful crowd led by LJC. This is not optics for them. This is a matter of what is just and right. Who is lying and whom are they trying to protect.

To the claim that these are women who are "condemning him." Where did you see that? Because the rest of us have not been privy to it.

Let's not assume gender is the sole axis by which oppression occurs. You all know well it isn't.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that every time someone criticizes how Balter is allowing his commenters to attack women around LJC, using their initials and suggesting their accomplishments were gained through sex with LJC, that is somehow undermining Balter and as a result somehow supporting LJC/abusers.
Both things can be true: LJC can be an abuser, AND it can be wrong to attack women who have worked from him. These attacks are sexist and misogynistic. Those women may be victims themselves for all we know. Consider the case of Urton’s former student dr Brezine who bravely told her story about his abuse. Imagine if she hadn’t wanted to come forward; there are many reasons a woman may stay quiet when she is being abused or knows abuse is happening. A woman in that situation would still not deserve internet abuse from anonymous commenters.

We all need to focus on LJC and abusers. Stop the witch hunt against every woman who has worked with him. You don’t know what victims you might be further traumatizing.

Michael Balter said...

SOME GUIDANCE FOR FURTHER COMMENT ON THIS BLOG POST

As usual, I allow criticism of me personally in this comments section, although I usually reject comments that are either purely personal attacks or misstate facts despite clear evidence. I will continue to do that. However, any comments that repeat the lies I have provided clear evidence for above, or that fail to engage with that evidence if someone does not agree with, will be deleted. This will keep the discussion both focused and often.

It is my contention that Student L has lied and that Ilana Johnson has either lied herself or repeated lies she has heard from Student L or perhaps others at PUCP. I wonder if some of those colleagues to whom Student L lied will now at least distance themselves from those lies? Or will they continue to defend the telling of them?

Finally, we hear so much how colleagues are condemning Castillo's behavior but still critical of Balter's reporting. Okay, fine, show us where those condemnations are taking place. Are they public, on Twitter or Facebook? Somehow I am missing them, but perhaps others have seen them.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter: AnonymousSeptember 3, 2020 at 12:07 PM. You are missing the point. This post was to clear the air on the malicious lies being told about Balter, ones that directly affect the real victims of Castillo, and it’s not focused on the allegations others have made about people in the comments section. While I don’t agree with the commenters using identifying initials in a public forum (go to Balter privately please, with receipts), making Balter the bogeyman distracts from the real issues here. These two sources of malicious lies are directly relevant to the architecture of impunity and abuse that Castillo has constructed. This is not a witch hunt. Castillo has enablers of all stripes, and they can do as they wish. But when they start defaming victims and the reporter, they don’t deserve any courtesy of not being called out, with receipts.

Michael Balter said...

Thanks to the last commenter. I always try to err in the direction of non-censorship of comments on this blog, and so I have let almost all comments through. There was one recently where a colleague was fully named, and I rejected it. In another case, some months ago, a colleague was either named or alluded to (don't recall which right now); she came to me and asked me to delete that comment, providing receipts for why what was said about her was false. I agreed to do that and did so immediately.

Michael Balter said...

I've just rejected a comment from someone who demonstrated that they have no knowledge of the facts of the Castillo case and whose remarks were thus irrelevant to the discussion. That is another criterion I will use going forward regarding this particular post.

Anonymous said...

Ilana Johnson and Ran Boytner are good friends, so that might be another reason for her attitude towards Balter's work.

Michael Balter said...

Danielle Kurin and Ran Boytner are also good friends, so that might explain some things too.

Michael Balter said...

I've deleted a comment which showed little understanding of the real issues here, and which, like some other comments above, failed to engage with the central question of whether Student L lied and if so whether that can be justified.

Michael Balter said...

I’ve deleted a comment which basically said, what does it matter if a student lies about a #MeToo reporter, because that has nothing to do with fighting gender discrimination. That commenter should read the blog post over again, where I explain exactly why it matters. How about a #MeToo reporter who is in danger of losing his house in a defamation suit because he would not quit reporting about abuses even when he could not get libel insurance? Does lying about him matter, or not?

Anonymous said...

Es interesante ver cómo la gente de Luis Jaime se expone tanto para pagarle los favores recibidos. Fui alumna de Luis Jaime en la facultad de Arqueología, si bien no percibí por mi parte ningún comportamiento de acoso, sé que Luis Jaime benefició a varias personas sólo por el hecho de asociarse con él. Incluso él mismo en clases contaba a quienes había ayudado y cómo lo había hecho. Literalmente decía que lo importante no era el talento, sino el asociarse a un profesor. Esa recolecta de firmas para no cuestionar a las mujeres asociadas a Luis Jaime me pareció un poco irónico: muchos de los nombres que leí eran justamente nombres mencionados por Luis Jaime en sus clases, incluyendo Student L.

Anonymous said...

Wow, someone actually argued it was OK to lie about a MeToo reporter because it doesn’t relate to gender discrimination? These people are delusional and grasping at straws. So much for accusing Balter of a “means justifying ends” person. He doesn’t even do that; people are doing some major projection here. Balter really hit a nerve with this post judging by the desperation dripping from these comments. Notice none of the critics ever feel sorry for Castillo’s real victims. They only activate their MeToo feminist language when their roles are pointed out (not by Balter’s reports or the survivors, but by telling lies and threatening to denounce students who signed letters of support in July, which apparently made many Peruvians livid at the hypocrisy). The irony is that they would not have been pointed out by anyone if they hadn’t been so public and active in their misinformation and defamation campaign from early June to this very day. They know Castillo even named the student in question during his classes to defend himself and yet still fixate on Balter calling Castillo out for outing her in the original Peru21 article. Castillo also tried to out his victims in the Peru21 interview. Where were their condemnations then? Where ARE their condemnations now? Hypocrisy of the highest order.

Marnie said...

Spent the last four hours reading the above post and all the comments very carefully.

Law and ethics within anthropology, archaeology and academia are not carved off from the legal framework of other laws in California regarding the workplace. Universities in California, and in most of the United States, are subject to the same codes of conduct as the rest of the workforce. In California, employers and universities are held liable for harassment that results because of a relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate :

https://www.calpeculiarities.com/2016/02/10/all-is-fair-in-love-and-the-workplace/

"An employer can be liable if the subordinate was subjected to a hostile work environment at the hands of the supervisor. In such a case California would impose automatic liability on the employer (liability without regard to notice or fault). In other words, employers are on the hook regardless of whether they knew that the supervisor was subjecting the supervisor’s lover or ex-lover to a hostile work environment."

"And employers may be liable for harassment not just to an employee once involved in a consensual romantic relationship, but also to other employees who have witnessed the relationship. The California Supreme Court has recognized a claim of sexual harassment brought by two women because they had been offended that other women received preferential treatment through sexual cooperation with their boss. The Supreme Court noted that an isolated incident of favoritism on the part of a supervisor toward the employee with whom the supervisor had a consensual relationship ordinarily would not constitute sexual harassment, but when “sexual favoritism in the workplace is sufficiently widespread it may create an actionable hostile work environment in which the demeaning message is conveyed.”

So is a subordinate that has engaged in a relationship with a supervisor entitled to absolute confidentiality under the law in California? The answer cannot be yes, because otherwise, no one could ever engage in the discovery process necessary to bring a case of third party harassment by those that believed the sexual relationship had created a hostile work environment due to favoritism.

Therefore, journalists should not be held to a duty of absolute confidentiality for supervisor-subordinate relationships that have resulted in third party harassment and undue favoritism. This would only prolong the hostile work environment.

Laws on this in California apply equally to men and women. That is one of the things that feminists have been fighting for, for decades: equality under the law in the workplace.

Absolute confidentiality is not preferentially granted to women (as compared to men) when they have a relationship with their boss.

I read through some of the comments, above, about "optics", about the notion that it is "antagonism" to contact a subordinate who has had a supervisor-subordinate workplace relationships, and that Michael somehow acted improperly when he contacted Student L in two very brief boilerplate-like emails. I also noted the comment above stating that they think women are to be treated with exceptional caution if they have experienced harassment. If so, on twitter, that "rule" must be applied very selectively. I've experienced a significant amount of harassment in the course of my work; Yet, no special treatment for me. Thank you twitter and #MeTooSTEM for your uninvited, out of the blue, targeted and hostile remarks on numerous occasions.

There's nothing in Michael's actions that would indicate that he did not act with the utmost professionalism.

Ask yourself: Who is obstructing due process of the law here? Who is complicit in creating a hostile environment?

Not Michael Balter.

Maybe time for the twitter anthropology community to bone up on a little bit of employment law in California as it pertains to harassment and creation of a hostile work environment.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ September 3, 2020 at 2:12 PM makes an excellent point. I wasn’t aware of Ilana Johnson’s close relationship to Ran Boytner, but I wasn’t surprised at all when she started attacking Balter’s reporting on Andean archaeologists. Just like Castillo and Boytner, Ilana was another Ph.D. advisee of Chip Stanish at UCLA/Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Johnson and Stanish also collaborated in the field, on grant proposals, and I think publications. Her dissertation fieldwork was funded in part by the Cotsen Institute.
The Cotsen Institute was featured in the pages of this blog in a very negative light, most recently with the town-hall meeting where IFR representatives shamelessly bashed Balter’s reporting on Kurin’s title ix cases. Stanish was also exposed here as the one who kept Boytner in his position at the Cotsen after he violated the Faculty Code of Conduct, and then again when he testified as Boytner’s character witness in the lawsuit filed by the harassed student. Stanish was also involved with the IFR board and somehow responsible for letting Kurin serve on that board. He’s as guilty as any one of them.

Frankly, I would also feel strongly about a reporter who exposed the ugly face of my alma mater, my Ph.D. advisor, my friend, and my project collaborator (and permit holder?). But I also want to believe that I will try to be honest, evaluate the evidence carefully, and certainly won’t tweet defamatory lies to the world. The dangerous thing is that if people don’t know who the person is and why they are writing, they may actually be tempted to believe them. At the end of the day it’s all about the tight-knit, self-serving, enabling networks that were discussed here and in other #MeToo forums. In other words- it’s not about truth and justice to survivors, or even about misguided feminist advocacy, but rather who scratches your back and where your loyalties lie.

Anonymous said...

Could it be just a coincidence that now five of Stanish’s close associates and\or former graduate students — Johnson, Castillo, Boytner, Kurin, Wendrich — are publicly trying to mar the reputation of one investigative reporter?
The image of flying monkeys immediately comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

Mr Balter: Retired archaeologist here who has followed your work for some time. Curious why in this discussion you did not mention the letter signed by several hundred Andean archaeologists, primarily Peruvians, who decried the calling out of Student L and other women archaeologists, and instead focused on Dr. Johnson (Note: I am not a signatory). Also, with respect to the "mi mujer" comment, Castillo only has of his students who is presently in grad school in the US-everyone in Andean archaeology was quickly able to identify her. I am curious if you were aware of that fact and how it played into your decision to write about this person in the way you did. Lastly, what is the evidence of a sexual relationship? I have sat on Title IX panels and proving a sexual relationship in the absence of testimony by either of the two parties to it is very difficult-requires an eyewitness in the bedroom (rare) or other documentary evidence . Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more.

Michael Balter said...

To the commenter above, thanks for your remarks. I will respond to those I think are relevant to this discussion..

1. I did not “focus” on Ilana Johnson. As I explained at great length in this post, she focused on me, spreading lies that were damaging not only to my reputation, but more importantly, damaging to the survivors of Castillo’s abuses. Those lies are continuing to be told and so I decided to counter them. The comment I quote at the end of the blog post makes the context for my doing that clear.

2. The significance of the “mi mujer” comment is not just that Castillo knew who this referred to, but that he did not deny having used this expression to refer to her.

3. Student L has told lies as I clearly demonstrated with the email thread above that concerns her. How is this okay? How does she get a pass for this? What was her reason for lying? She could have told the truth and said, Balter got in touch with me but I did not want to talk to him. By going further and lying, she becomes complicit. That should be clear to everyone.

4. Don’t be so sure that I don’t have direct witnesses to the sexual relationship. But the sourcing is very sensitive and I protect confidential sources.

I will keep up the good work, thanks.

Michael Balter said...

Let me make something clear in case some are not yet getting it or have not read my earlier reporting.

Luis Jaime Castillo Butters has a long, well-known, and well-witnessed history of sleeping with students. In some cases he has gotten those students into graduate posts at U.S. universities (indeed, Castillo has bragged repeatedly that he can get his students into any US university.) Did they belong in those posts, were they qualified to obtain those graduate school slots? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the process is still corrupt and would not be accepted as normal or ethical practice in any reputable university.

As for the letter the retired archaeologist refers to: If it's the same one I am thinking of, it was organized by Castillo defenders, but written in such a way that anyone with a good heart and concern for women in archaeology might sign it, not realizing what its true origins and purpose were. I might have signed it myself had I not known the truth about it.

Anonymous said...

In response to AnonymousSeptember 4, 2020 at 6:14 AM, I am sure the lie that LJC only has one female student in the US currently was promulgated by LJC’s clique because I saw it being said by one of them on twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/CedricJames_ur1/status/1279243552426344448. News flash, she isn’t the only one of Castillo’s former students doing a PhD in the US at the moment. Balter’s reporting also did not specify whether this student was currently in graduate school! So actually, Castillo and his group called as much attention to this student as possible, including Student L herself, for the sole purpose of discrediting Balter and the real survivors of Castillo. So everyone should be extra careful about the maelstrom of lies that originated with Castillo and his group; you may not even realize they originated with them.

As for the letter, it was to demonstrate to the Peruvian detractors “Stop criticizing us! Look at who are allies are!” It cynically used the language of MeToo to get signatures. In fact, the letter was by invite only, as a way to prevent signatories who were naive about the political context from being contacted by someone who knew and dissuaded from signing. It was also done as a loyalty check, with at least one of the authors even stooping as low as to call her students to support the letter. If anyone is curious, nearly Castillo’s whole clique signed the letter. None of them signed the student written PUCP letter of support from early July nor the Faculty letter simply asking for due process in the Castillo investigation. This group is super devious, and unfortunately their lies over the past 3 months have reached into all corners of the archaeological (and beyond) community. Balter had no choice but to finally push back against these insidious lies. We begged him to. This is definitely a reckoning moment for Andean Archaeology. Which side are you deciding to be on? The side of truth or the side of deception and lies?

Anonymous said...

I would also like to add that the lies have gotten back to the survivors of Castillo many times from their colleagues and mentors. They can’t say anything, of course, and out themselves, but have to bear the retraumatization Castillo and his clique had inflicted on them for years. Can you imagine the level of mobbing and gaslighting experienced by these survivors (and countless others who haven’t come forward who have severe PTSD) when they are so audacious in their lying to the WHOLE WORLD? It’s psychological torture. You are essentially signaling to them, “Your voices don’t matter; you don’t matter. We value ‘keeping it all in the family’ above rooting out abuse” when you continue to believe these lies and not reflect on why they are being told. So please stop repeating these lies. You have no idea who is watching and listening to you uncritically spreading and amplifying these lies with your credibility and status.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting me see the original request to Student L. Student L decided to up the ante by creating the false impression that what you had done was somehow outrageous by having a third party respond in "overkill" and therefore setting off the powder keg that has fueled this rumour mill. Having been harassed in the UC system work place myself by bully administrators who have set me up in exactly the same way, you have done precisely the right thing in detailing and responding to this. As for Johnson, I looked at her bio. When I saw that she had received her Ph.D. with Chip Stanish at UCLA in Andean archaeology I really didn't have to give her ridiculous remarks any further consideration. Its just obvious where her cards lay on the table.

Michael Balter said...

Thank you for that last comment. Castillo's apologists and defenders (apologizing and defending sexual harassment, sleeping with students, retaliation, corruption, etc) can't quite figure out how to portray Student L. One minute she is a victim (of me for sure, but maybe also of Castillo?) and then they realize that they can't say she is Castillo's victim because the man with the power won't like that. So the next minute she is a strong, talented, independent archaeologist who got her slot in a US university totally on her merits, and was not another example of Castillo sleeping with a student and then getting her a post. Which way is it?

Anonymous said...

I have known Luis Jaime Castillo for some time, and I have always seen him as a true psychopath. He never cared to hide his intentions to wield absolute control of Peruvian north coast archaeology in particular, and Peruvian archaeology in general. I consider his case to be extremely similar to Charles Manson’s, who assembled a group of young followers (both men and women) around him. These fans were totally convinced of Manson´s messianic call, and showed great concern in executing his commands and keeping the health and integrity of Manson’s “family”. It was not unusual for Manson to test the loyalty of his followers, assigning them horrific tasks, staying home, and later watching on the news if the task was fulfilled.
Castillo not only uses this last strategy, but has gone one step further. Castillo has established an elaborate system of rewards and deprivations for those surrounding him, aimed at increasing the cohesiveness, strength and size of his “family”. The value of the prizes differs in terms of many factors, including the hierarchy of the “family member” and the transcendence of the assigned task. For instance, newcomers should expect, at most, to see their names printed in a San José de Moro publication. Those higher up in the organization, on the other hand, look forward to achieve a top prize, which include scholarships at top-tier American universities, funding for research projects, teaching positions at PUCP, or well paid jobs at Peru´s Ministry of Culture. This strategy has proven so effective, that it is not strange to see Castillo´s followers competing among themselves to demonstrate the greatest acts of loyalty, or engage in their own, personally-inspired acts, which are aimed at causing a great impression.
Of course, you can always say that both Manson’s and Castillo’s followers were victims of manipulation. I think, however, that they are mentally competent and old enough to clearly understand the difference between good and evil. Castillo´s followers bear the additional responsibility of having completed, all of them, a higher education at a top-tier US university.

Anonymous said...

This last comment is 100% true. How do I know? Castillo OPENLY flaunts this system to his students at PUCP. He recruits loyalists this way. He advertises all this. His own mouth! It should not come as a surprise that there are only around 20 PUCP archaeology students when they have a whopping 17 professors and instructors. It’s public and notorious what you may be getting yourself into if you major in archaeology at PUCP.

Anonymous said...

Realmente me ha sorprendido el comunicado y veo con mucha pena los nombres de arqueólogos peruanos a quienes respeto (o respetaba). Firmar un comunicado que pone a personas de ética cuestionada por encima de las víctimas es realmente terrible. Este es un llamado a los colegas peruanos que leen este post, vean la lista y recuerden los nombres, esas son las personas (en su mayoría personas extranjeras) que vienen a nuestro país a explotarnos con sueldos miserables, los que nos hicieron trabajar gratis cuando éramos estudiantes y ahora quieren asustarnos para que no denunciemos al principal aliado de sus abusos. MIREN LA LISTA, RECUERDEN LOS NOMBRES.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to post here (or link to) the said-list of archaeologists that support Castillo?
¿Es posible publicar aquí (o enlazar) la lista de arqueólogos que apoyan a Castillo?

Anonymous said...

US archaeologist here, but no affiliation with Peruvian archaeology or association with the characters at play. Maybe my opinion is not informed because of this, but I feel like regardless of the context, maligning Castillo’s students instead of him is pretty toxic.

Being a woman in academia is already a precarious space. Accusing female scholars of having “slept their way to the top” is sexist, full stop. There is nothing that excuses that attitude. I don't see any evidence in the above article to suggest that "Student L" has defended Castillo's actions, only expressed that she does not want to comment for this story, and I frankly can't blame her with the way the initial request was phrased; I would definitely have done the same.

Put yourself in any of these women's shoes for a moment. You constantly face sexism in your workspace because of the nature of your job, perhaps even at the hands of your own supervisors. You grin and bear the belittling comments, work on your research, and get the hell out of there where you can finally run your own projects and try to make a better climate for your students than you had. When it comes out that someone you have associated with during that journey is a sexual predator, you are outraged but tired and unsurprised. You don't blame the women who have come forward, and are probably even relieved: maybe you suspected, but didn't know, and now he won't be able to get away with it anymore.

Now imagine that, amidst the complications of navigating a career that has been tainted by the actions of this person, people are calling you an abuser for not having admitted to being a victim of theirs. Maybe you never thought of yourself as a victim. Maybe, to you, that person was an annoyance, but ultimately benign compared to others you encountered. Maybe you carry the scars of other injustices, dealt with Title IX investigations that made you deeply mistrustful that accountability was possible, and you want to just move on and do your own work. There are any number of reasons you might not want to talk about your experience with them.

The reality is, we all encounter those people. Maybe we don't all experience the pain of sexual assault, but we all have people on our committees, in our departments, at our field sites who routinely make comments or engage in behaviors that they would not to our male counterparts. Are their actions our fault? Is it the women who, after enduring sexism for years, make it to an actual position in our (still male-dominated) field that we need to hold accountable for the actions of their male colleagues?

This reporting has gone beyond the actions of Castillo and has become focused on "Student L" and other women, and that's a problem. Let's keep the focus on weeding out abusers and not set up more obstacles for women who already have enough to deal with.

Michael Balter said...

I've published the above comment, but I will respond to it as I have before: There is no excuse for lying about one's interactions with a reporter. And that is what happened. Student L could have simply told people, "Balter asked to talk with me (politely) and I did not want to, so I asked a communications person at my university to respond." Telling everyone that Balter relentlessly harassed her is a lie, that she told him this and that but he did not believe her, etc etc, is a lie, full stop, and the question is why it had to be told. Too many want to sidestep that very important question. And the key thing here is that by lying about me, one is bringing discredit to the survivors who asked me to tell their experiences with Castillo. Reporting on Castillo unfortunately means also reporting on those individuals and institutions that have enabled him, defended him, made excuses for him, and os forth. It's a critique not of one abuser but an entire academic culture that allows it, and is allowing it still. Others have tried to say the same things in these comments, but they are not being heard.

Michael Balter said...

PS to the above comment: Everyone in Peruvian archaeology KNOWS that Castillo sleeps with students and then gets them posts at major US universities. Everyone. I can understand why colleagues that don't know that might be troubled by my reporting, but the self-righteousness of those who do know it is completely disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

Balter never said anyone slept their way to the top. This is a narrative that Castillo and his group promulgated. In fact, the first time this narrative was public was during Castillo’s Peru21 interview. Castillo was open about his relationships with students and bragged how far he had gotten them. To blame Balter for a narrative he never promoted is gaslighting 101. Balter only points out how Castillo is promoting this corrupt process. He even made it clear that the people Castillo himself bragged he placed into top places may have been deserving, or not, but the point is that the process Castillo advertised and carried out is corrupt to the core. It meant that there were equally or even more deserving Peruvian women and men who were shut out of these opportunities on purpose to make way for his acolytes. Blame Castillo, not Balter.

Michael Balter said...

I appreciate the last comment, and in fact there is clear evidence that Castillo advertises just in this way. Why did he never deny that he used the term "mi mujer" to refer to Student L? In the Peru21 interview, Castillo immediately went on to tell everyone that he knew exactly who this referred to. An alternative response might have been, "I never called her 'mi mujer,' but I think I know who Balter is referring to..."

No, he did not say that, because Castillo is proud of the fact that if students sleep with him he will get them posts. It's good advertising. Get wise. And as the commenter says, once a student Castillo has slept with gets the post (in some universities in the US there are in effect designated Castillo slots) then that's it for several years.

Anonymous said...

Note that in the Peru21 interview, Castillo refers to “mi mujer” as a “chica,” or girl. She is not a girl, but using this term betrays his fundamental sexism. He brags about how many women he has graduated and gotten into top places in the Peru21 interview, and how this somehow proves he is not a chauvinist; actually the whole interview he was singing his own praises! What Castillo’s group keeps focusing on are the women in Castillo’s circle being victims of Balter, but the fact is, Castillo has promoted and covered for many men in his career as well. To Castillo, blind loyalty is number 1. Castillo should not be sleeping with students or covering for men who plagiarize, because that creates a hostile environment for scholarship. By sleeping with students people automatically, and correctly in many cases, will assume that any privileges they receive from Castillo and his North American friends to be tainted. Blame Castillo for sleeping with students and covering people’s corruption, not Balter

Anonymous said...

Veo múltiples comentarios de personas que sabemos perfectamente quiénes son, que en su nueva faceta de feministas dicen defender a Student L del acoso de Balter. Yo he sido compañero de Student L en varios cursos en la PUCP, y para cualquiera que sabe quien es, sabe perfectamente que los post de arriba mienten en varios aspectos sobre su perfil académico. Su ingreso a la prestigiosa universidad donde ahora cursa el doctorado, ha sido blanco de burlas humillantes por parte de las mismas personas que ahora la defienden. Esto es un acto de hipocresía mayúscula por parte de estas personas, quienes en el laboratorio de San José de Moro lanzaban burlas recurrentes contra ella comparando su ingreso con el de Reese Witherspoon en Legalmente Rubia, o imitando su forma de hablar inglés recordando que nunca pudo aprobar su examen TOEFL para ingresar al doctorado. Recuerdo claramente a JD acercarse riéndose a las mesas de arqueología donde todos estábamos reunidos diciendo: “Student L no puede ser más tonta, creyó que la graduación era el trámite para sacar su título de bachiller”. Las mismas personas que ahora atacan a Balter por ser "agresivo", son las que en lo privado se burlan, humillan y cuestionan a Student L. Digo esto para que quien aún no se haya dado cuenta, entienda de una vez por todas que esto no se trata de Student L, se trata de un grupo de personas que están instrumentalizando mentiras para poder encubrir a LJC.

Michael Balter said...

My Spanish is not very good but I understand what the previous commenter has said. For the convenience of those who do not read Spanish, I am posting the Google translate version, leaving its imperfections unedited (looks like computerized translation programs still have a way to go).

"I see multiple comments from people who know exactly who they are, who in their new facet of feminists say they defend Student L from Balter's harassment. I have been a partner of Student L in several courses at PUCP, and for anyone who knows who he is, he knows perfectly well that the posts above lie in various aspects about his academic profile. Her admission to the prestigious university where she is now pursuing her doctorate has been the target of humiliating ridicule from the very people who now defend her. This is an act of capital hypocrisy on the part of these people, who in the San José de Moro laboratory launched recurrent taunts against her, comparing her income with that of Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, or imitating her way of speaking English remembering that she could never pass your TOEFL exam to enter the doctorate. I clearly remember JD approaching laughing at the archeology tables where we were all gathered saying: "Student L could not be more foolish, he believed that graduation was the process to get his bachelor's degree." The same people who now attack Balter for being "aggressive" are the ones who privately mock, humiliate and question Student L. I say this so that those who have not yet realized it, understand once and for all that this This is not about Student L, it is about a group of people who are instrumentalizing lies in order to cover up LJC."

Anonymous said...

US archaeologist here, but no affiliation with Peruvian archaeology or association with the characters at play. Maybe my opinion is not informed because of this, but I feel like regardless of the context, maligning Castillo’s students instead of him is pretty toxic.

Its important to know the history of this issue by familiarizing oneself with the previous blogs. Student L engaged in a tactic that was intended to make Balter look like he was harassing her which was ridiculous when you see Balter's original inquiry that he posted. This is a critical point that is being made in that this gang is trying to turn the tables. I have experienced this myself in museums and academic departments where I have been employed. Balter has to refute this as this group is in league with Kurin to try to undermine his defense. So they are promoting a side show and Balter is presenting the facts to out their sophomoric and unfounded tactics.

I can see why people who have not been following this blog would tune in and wonder what's going on but they are not familiar with the tactics at play here. Many weeks ago several colleagues were alarmed by what was being said about a professor at UCLA who is also associated with this Andeanist gang. The discourse had to be removed because the people engaged in it on both sides had no understanding of the background of the issues which were being discussed with regard to UCLA, UCSB and the IFR. They never read the blog.

I really value this entire four months of debate over institutional corruption and harassment. Balter has put himself right in the center of firestorm of problems with these institutions that is well worth reading in detail. There is going to be far more life to all this material than any of us can imagine in coming years. I for one am grateful to see how many things that happened to me in my career were due to insidious manipulation in the work place by "colleagues" and not personal faults or short comings as they were presented to me at the time.

I recommend that grad students and emerging scholars download this material because you will be going up against exactly the same tactics as you proceed through your careers. These are a product of the application of the "business model" to academia and the humanities and it is destroying our educational system. It starts at the top!

Michael Balter said...

Pretending you are protecting a woman from harassment by a man when you are really protecting a man who harasses women is the height of gaslighting.

Michael Balter said...

Re the comment from the US archaeologist, I do hope some cultural anthropologists are taking this all down. Too bad David Graeber is gone, he might have found it interesting. His writings on “structural violence” are very relevant to the kind of power that Castillo exerts on Peruvian and even North American archaeology.

Michael Balter said...

Rejecting comments from people who are truly not engaging with the main points being made here by either side

Anonymous said...

It’s also the height of gaslighting when they call Balter a gaslighter. Truth bomb time: people who tell the truth and expose lies are NOT gaslighters. Liars are gaslighters. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/11-warning-signs-gaslighting

Michael Balter said...

Thought experiment, although it does require that people think.

Let's say an archaeologist finds out that lies be being spread about them, to the effect that they are plagiarizing other people's work and falsifying data. Are there any circumstances under which an academic would allow such damaging lies to go unchallenged and unanswered? They could destroy his or her career and their reputation.

Let's say it turns out that the lies were started by a poor undergraduate student, for whatever reason. Would the archaeologist keep quiet?

Of course not. So don't ask a journalist whose ability to work depends on building trust with sources--and in my case, with survivors--to accept it. Especially if the lies are being told and spread to protect an abuser, which is also the case here.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who still don’t get why telling these awful lies about Balter is helping Castillo, consider this. Castillo and his group are spreading the narrative that if Balter’s methods are abusive, then his evidence is tainted and should not be taken seriously. Anyone with two brain cells will see how this would help Castillo get off the hook.

Michael Balter said...

Let's see Castillo's supporters openly defend him against the allegations instead of hiding behind one of his students.

Anonymous said...

These are valid questions raised from the post and the comments here:

You said he's defending himself in classes. He's not currently teaching at PUCP, do you have information about him teaching anywhere?

Has he gone any further on his threat of suing you in USA?

Do you have any information about the ongoing investigation at PUCP?

Michael Balter said...

Re the previous comment:

He was defending himself in class earlier this year.

Will leave to others where he might be teaching now.

Nothing new on his threats against me. They were mainly intended to intimidate his colleagues in Peru.

The PUCP investigation continues, is all I can say. The process is (supposed to be) confidential. Perhaps others would like to comment.

Anonymous said...

Castillo’s defenders have not been keeping quiet about the confidential investigation. If you read through the comments from previous posts, there were at least a couple that insinuated confidential information about what was happening in the investigation regarding who, if anyone, was coming forward, and thus snidely mocking Castillo detractors.

Anonymous said...

To the point of the Spanish-language commenter above, Student L has been the victim of suspicion about her university admission long before the LJC story broke. There are a few reasons, but it has primarily surrounded her English / TOEFL.

Fairly or not, the recent reporting on Balter's Blog offers possible answers to the question of her admission. Those answers cast Student L's professional trajectory in a negative light. From her perspective, it may seem like a case of guilt-by-association where she has no means by which to exonerate herself. I expect that's why she chose to "shoot the messenger" and attack Balter. A desperate move, and one that of course he's rightfully pissed off about.

But the thing is, even though we have abundant signs of LJC misconduct, we don't have the departmental committee's admission notes. Imagine a world where Student L, in fact, gained admission of her own abilities with a better TOEFL than folks imagined and limited LJC involvement. He may even take credit where he deserves none! What's the solution so that she can clear her name? It's not a rhetorical question - I hope we, as a community, can find a way to answer it.

Anonymous said...

In response the previous poster, the way to clear her name was to tell the truth or at least not collude with Castillo to shoot the messenger and discredit the survivors. By choosing this path of lies and deception, she is signaling to everyone who knows the facts of the case that she doesn’t think she can succeed in academia if Castillo falls. She could have taken the high road and said, yes this happened to me but I made a path for myself afterwards despite these extremely toxic and abusive environments. Instead, she knows she has does things in imitation of Castillo, and some things that are even more dastardly, and so has taken the path of doubling down on the lies and discrediting the real survivors. I don’t know how she can exonerate herself moving on from her active role in perpetuating these damaging lies, but it can start by acknowledging the truth of what had happened and recognizing that she needs to be better than Castillo moving forward.

Anonymous said...

When a woman accepts a sexual relationship with a person in power that she would not otherwise accept, she becomes complicit in her own abuse. When she receives career promotion as one of the benefits of such a relationship, she is complicit in both her own abuse and the abuse of women who chose not to participate in such relationships. She is contributing to the establishment and maintenance of a corrupt system, although she may not be wise enough, or strong enough, to see that at the outset. Yet, at the same time, women who accept such relationships, and those who don’t, are both victims. I am not denying their suffering. However, sex can be used consciously as a career promotion strategy, or it may be reluctantly performed by women who feel their only other choice is marginalization in their profession. It may be used by women who are extremely talented, or by those who otherwise would not advance professionally. To accept without question the talents and competence of women who have been advantaged by their sexual choices is to ignore a possible dynamic in many careers, and is unfair to women who refuse such advantage. Of course, false accusations are a danger, because sexual relationships are usually conducted behind closed doors, and because people frequently lie about sex, saying they have had it when they haven’t and that they haven’t when they have. We can almost never be certain we know the truth about the private behavior of others.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has lived in dorm-like environments know how hard it is to keep sexual relationships under wraps. Sound carries, for example. I am not specifically referring to this case, just in general in archaeology field environments. So it’s not that uncommon to know who is sleeping with whom. On every dig I’ve been on, it’s very clear who was sleeping with whom.

Michael Balter said...

Re the last comment: This is true in my experience. Unfortunately, it does come up from time to time that who is sleeping with whom is relevant to a journalist’s reporting and the story they are doing. Reporters don’t rely on rumors for this kind of thing (“oh, it’s well known that he is sleeping with her,” that kind of thing.) There has to be more evidence of the kind the commenter refers to above, and even better, eyewitnesses that people are in the same room or even the same bed together. That kind of evidence is key in the Kurin case, for example, and it is also relevant to the Castillo case.

Anonymous said...

There are absolutely comments from Balter’s supporters on earlier posts insinuating that other women, who previously weren’t involved in these stories, got their positions because of their alleged sexual relationship with LJC. It names them by initials and makes it clear where you can find their full names.

Michael Balter said...

Just one comment from me on the above: The term “Balter’s supporters” is not an accurate description of those here who want to see Castillo’s abuses exposed and also want to see colleagues who are incessantly trying to deflect attention stop doing that. I don’t need supporters, but the truth certainly does.

Anonymous said...

We are not "supporters." Many of us reporting here know all these characters very well and have independent confirmation of their activities as harassers or members of their enabling networks that have been sponsored by institutional administrators through their departments with which a number of us have been or continue to be affiliated.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with the above. Those who think these comments are written by people which intention is merely to “support” Balter should flip through the other pages of this blog. They will find hundreds of comments from concerned citizens who join in the efforts to expose other academic abusers/harassers/bullies such as Rathjen, Cooper, Gomez, Boytner, McLaughlin, and many, many others. They will find much evidence-based information that is not available anywhere else. These commenters are also trying to correct or replace the corrupt individuals and systems that enabled these harassers, Danielle Kurin being a case in point. This is textbook harassment crowdsourcing, which has been proven extremely useful in other cases:
http://theprofessorisin.com/2017/12/01/a-crowdsourced-survey-of-sexual-harassment-in-the-academy/
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07491409.2019.1641873

Anonymous said...

I have been following the comments on this post and am hearing about reactions of survivors of Castillo's abuse at the same time. The dishonest attacks on Balter's reporting, combined with the lies that are swirling from Castillo's supporters are having an enormous impact on survivors of Castillo's abuse. These women are suffering.

There are at least two types of people who are re-traumatizing survivors right now. Which one are you and what are you going to do about it?

1. Non-Andeanists who want to perform feminist solidarity but don't actually take the time to listen to those of us who work in the Andes and know the landscapes of power best. They take the convenient route of mischaracterizing the white guy reporter when what they really should be doing is taking us Andeanists seriously when we try to explain to them how the moves being made by Castillo supporters are insidious maneuvers to de-legitimize survivors.

2. The Andeanists who know very well that they are performers (not all signatories of the letter understood what they were signing for, but many, many did). Their fragile hold on institutional and social power has been obtained primarily through Castillo's abuses and misuses of his own power. They must remain loyal--and publicly so--to the man who maintains his lists of bootlickers/chupamedias. Did you know he has a "Do not cite/do not read" list that he asks his acolytes to adhere to? That's how petty and power-hungry he is. These archaeologists have been brought up in this toxic culture. They have learned from Castillo that this is the way to make a life in our field. Some of them will never learn to actually support those who most need it. Why would they when there are so many rewards to be reaped from doing the dirty work of the power brokers?

So who do you want to support? The imperfect white guy risking his entire livelihood to support survivors and help us find justice? Or the take-no-real-risks followers of Castillo who will hide behind his accomplices to maintain the status quo at all costs? You actually cannot do both with any integrity.

Anonymous said...

I notice that Dr. Ilana Johnson did not sign the letter that was by invite only. What's sad about the Luis Jaime Castillo group and his wannabe group members is that Castillo manipulates them to compete with each other for scraps of his attention and favors. So Ilana goes out of her way to impress Castillo and his group, but in a cruel twist, may not have even been invited to sign the letter, which she would have in a heartbeat. What's also sad is that I don't think Ilana knows that her own dissertation may have been put on the infamous "banned list" that Castillo made. One of his circle claimed this, and the sad thing is, that group is so dishonest it's hard to know whether this was said just to be mean or if it was true. Likewise, Castillo has called Student L "stupid" to her face many times, and she has gone crying to her colleagues in the field about it. They all know who Castillo is and what he is capable of. He, like Trump, is only loyal to himself and will want to cut you down if you start shining brighter than he. Then who will help you?
If this group really wants to show they are feminists, they would stop spreading lies that hurt the real survivors of Castillo and show they can forge their own independent paths to success in academia. They should come clean about what they have seen and know, of course, to make reparations for their complicity in corruption and abuse. Castillo is not your friend. It's time to give him up and show the world you can make it on your own without his patronage. He has convinced you all that you absolutely need him. You don't. The survivors have proven him wrong on this account.

Anonymous said...

Woman archaeologist here. We who signed that letter knew exactly what we were signing. We have spent years dispelling the myth that the only way women could get ahead was sleeping their way to the top. These efforts to undue that work (more by commenters with axes to grind than Balter himself) are disgusting and harmful to the cause of gender equality.

Anonymous said...

As a male raised in a family of female scientists and their colleagues who did not sleep their way to the top but fought equally to dispel this myth during their careers for the past half a century, I don't agree with the over-simplification of the above lengthy discussion as being about women sleeping their way to the top. I don't see anything being undone here and the remarks suggest that the writer has not read the blog entirely. The issues have to do with corruption and sexual harassment at the executive level and the entrapment that can ensue. How do we deal with that entrapment and when it divides a field as it has done with Andean studies in particular? How do those of us who are drawn into this situation as colleagues who have worked with these corrupt individuals respond once their crimes have been exposed whether we are male or female?

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
Woman archaeologist here. We who signed that letter knew exactly what we were signing. We have spent years dispelling the myth that the only way women could get ahead was sleeping their way to the top. These efforts to undue that work (more by commenters with axes to grind than Balter himself) are disgusting and harmful to the cause of gender equality."

If you were trying to dispel the myth that "the only way women could get ahead was sleeping their way to the top," you would speak out against Castillo, who promotes this narrative through deed and words. Show this is not true instead of just saying it. If you just say this but don't speak out against Castillo (none of Castillo's PUCP clique signed earlier letters of support, by the way), it /shows/ you are actually afraid of him and the control he has over your careers. In reality, Castillo's clique just keeps telling and believing lies that do great harm to the real survivors of Castillo. I also find it "disgusting" that you imply the commenters have axes to grind, implying they are saying these things out of jealousy. Castillo also promotes this narrative in his Peru21 interview, saying his detractors simply are not cut out for the rigors of archaeology or any rigorous, but fair, criticism. That they are jealous simply because they are not in such an esteemed and successful network. I can't imagine anyone not finding this super sexist. Of course, not a peep about the sufferings of the actual survivors here and the things that Castillo put them through. I find the vast majority of the comments to be respectful and nuanced, and many give information that I did not know before for sure but had heard rumors about. Please actually engage with what's being said in the comments instead of just repeating a narrative over and over again without any engagement with the real issues here.

Anonymous said...

I advise everyone to read the Peru21 Castillo interview. Does anyone else find it creepy that an old guy would be referring to a (former) student in these terms? " There are also three direct allegations saying that I have had relationships with students. One of them is a—with a person who is referred to in the text as "my woman," so that I ... [unintelligible]. That student—this girl is a student of mine who is doing her Ph.D. in the United States, right?, with whom I have a very deep academic and familial relationship—very deep. [Unintelligible] very close, yes?" Very deep and familial? It does not sound very professional for an old man to refer to his former advisee as a girl and having a very deep and familial relationship with her. It almost sounds like he knows everyone knows who the "mi mujer" is referring to because they are seen as uncomfortably close. He also sounds like he is signaling to this student "We are family. Don't speak out. Don't betray me." Sounds abusive.

Anonymous said...

US archaeologist again: A previous comment I made was rejected, I suppose because Balter found it to be too critical. I will try to address some of the things brought up by previous commentators in a way that is palatable for a personal blog.

1.) I do not, nor do the signers of the letter (to my knowledge: I looked through previous posts and couldn't find a place where it had been shared? This may be helpful context) argue in defense of Castillo, or against his accusers. What he has done is indefensible.

2.) I understand the argument that criticizing Balter's reporting has a negative effect on the survivors in this situation, and it is a valid concern. It does, however, bring up the question of how much collateral we are willing to put up with in order to "protect journalistic integrity." There are people being harmed by the publication of this post, no question, and I don't believe that providing a forum in which to spread unfounded rumors about people who have in no way come out on the side of an abuser is helpful to the cause either (ie, "Everyone in Peruvian archaeology KNOWS that Castillo sleeps with students and then gets them posts at major US universities." and the many outrageous comments about student L in particular).

3.) I find it ironic that some of these defamatory comments were approved (and in fact translated for our convenience of reading) while comments critical of the conversation that is happening are not. If this is about truth and free speech, isn't that a bit hypocritical?

4.) On the subject of "lying about a reporter": I think that Balter absolutely has a right to defend himself against what he finds to be a biased characterization of his exchanges with student L. That was easily handled by the sharing of the emails, and I don't have any problem with that.

5.) What I take issue with is the personal attack on the credibility of student L's position and quality of work. This goes beyond defending one's reputation as a journalist and becomes more about retaliating against/punishing the person in question by making (as far as I could find on this blog, completely unsupported and unfounded) claims about her character. Again, to reiterate, it is this: "it was always possible that she might have to be named, if it could be demonstrated that she got her university slot through patronage and not through merit", and "Everyone in Peruvian archaeology KNOWS that Castillo sleeps with students and then gets them posts at major US universities," that I take issue with. "Everyone knows" is not a good source, insinuations are not fact, and this is what is hurting the integrity of the reporting, not the people who are pointing out that fact in the comments.

In sum, though I'm not sure this will pass the censor, I just want to say that this has gone overboard. Balter is not above reproach because of his position as an ally. We have to be critical, even among our own community, when we see behaviors that are harmful. I hope to see more about the ongoing investigation into Castillo's actions in the future, and the focus to shift away from Balter and back to the real victims in this situation.

Anonymous said...

I am a senior scholar in New World Archaeology thoroughly familiar with these Andeanists and can attest to the fact that "everyone knows" and has known because it has come up in conversations with these colleagues for over ten years. Again one of the real issues is what do we do when we find out that Castillo has been harassing a student? The recommendation by faculty advisors that the student should leave the field has just got to end. I can't quite understand what US archaeologist's position is and the perspective seems to have changed since US archaeologist's initial statement.

Anonymous said...

“US Archaeologist” has been criticizing Balter on Facebook, Twitter, and the comments sections on all the LJC posts. Of course everyone has a right to be critical, but “US Archaeologist” does it disingenuously and moves the goalposts constantly, as the above commenter Senior Scholar noted. Asks disingenuous questions and when Balter gives more information then attacks him on this information. “US Archaeologist” doesn’t know the facts of the case nor the context but likes to attack Balter and enjoy the praise of the former MeTooSTEM clique and their friends. She has written more than a book chapter’s worth of criticism on Balter in the past couple of months, and Castillo survivors are baffled at why she is so motivated and invested in a case where she knows nothing about. Unfortunately Castillo supporters think they’ve found an ally in “US Archaeologist.”

Anonymous said...

There are many people in these comments who seem unwilling to understand the central issue about his beneficiaries. Let’s say an election is rigged and corrupt people put in power someone they like. Let’s say the beneficiary turns out to be OK, no more or less corrupt than your average politician. Would you then say this person and the process used to put this person in power as fair? The real case is even clearer in corruption because Castillo is thoroughly corrupt and does not like his beneficiaries breaking free of dependency. He craves total control and uses every dirty trick in a mobster’s playbook, including sexual exploitation and harassment, to feel in control and superior to others.

Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you to those who are in clear support of the victims and survivors of Castillo & C.O. On the other hand, it blows my mind to see so many colleagues writing in this blog criticizing Balter. I understand that maybe you all have a problem with how some things might have been done or have a blind view on why certain things are not Balter's fault. I think all that discussion is valid, I think we can all be better, you, me, Balter, even the terrible human being Castillo is. I even think Balter knows that. But the real discussion here should be that Castillo is one of many sexual predator in Andean Archaeology. Instead of criticizing somebody that has helped pass the mic to so many of us survivors, that has helped us find a small part of justice, and has helped us heal a part of our pain, why aren’t you all criticizing Luis Jaime Castillo and all the other sexual predators is Andean Archaeology? They are the true problem; they are the one's destroying our lives. Come to terms with the real problem and help be the solution, your comments and opinions are complicit to Luis Jaime and all the rest of those horrible men – you are picking the wrong side of the fight. Please you all, open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

I think we are dealing with the "stooge" factor here. I remember the tactic from the 70's and its just as prevalent today with Kayleigh, Kelleyanne, Laura... or maybe Jaime Luis is writing this material himself. I know Jaime Luis and I certainly wouldn't put it past him.

Michael Balter said...

I'm going to make a comment of my own here. I agree with those who insist that the criticisms of me and my reporting, as valid as it is to challenge a journalist and the way he works, are in this context a way of deflecting from the focus on Castillo's abuses. The evidence is that those who do raise those issues have little to say about Castillo, who is really the main issue.

Another piece of evidence is what seems to be, as far as I can tell, near silence about what I reported about Castillo's alleged efforts to extort an honorary PhD out of Yale in return for his cooperation on the final details of the return of the Machu Picchu artifacts and human remains. I made it clear that while Richard Burger is downplaying that episode now, he told colleagues at the time that Castillo was very serious--even if Yale itself would never contemplate such a thing.

Why this silence? Embarrassment on the part of Castillo's defenders and apologists? Perhaps someone can comment on this.

Anonymous said...

“ AnonymousSeptember 8, 2020 at 9:31 PM
I think we are dealing with the "stooge" factor here. I remember the tactic from the 70's and its just as prevalent today with Kayleigh, Kelleyanne, Laura... or maybe Jaime Luis is writing this material himself. I know Jaime Luis and I certainly wouldn't put it past him.“

Well put! Though I am too young to understand the “stooge factor” reference, I totally get the Trump reference. You must have known him for a while given the “Jaime Luis” reference. He was called “Jaime” pronounced “Jamie” in his grad school days. LJC is definitely capable of using real life sockpuppets as well as writing some of these inane comments. I remember approaching one of his victims by email and this victim said Luis Jaime was none other than evil incarnate; so evil, in fact, that this victim wanted to make sure I was who I said I was!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for raising these issues. I know that it is not easy to receive such criticism at a time when it must seem like you are being attacked from all angles and I respect your ability to acknowledge even those you disagree with.

In answer to the second part of your comment, I think these are far more important issues than what has been discussed here!!! The only reason I have not commented more on them is it has not seemed to be the focus of this particular post. I would love to see a follow-up that engages with these issues in more depth: It's absolutely astounding how a single scholar could hold such sway over these major institutions and something we (archaeologists) definitely need to recognize and unpack. I just wanted to point out that it is not "Student L" who is the enemy here, and all this discussion about her does nothing except distract from the man who has been using the system as his hunting grounds.

This is the last comment I'll make here, as I don't think my pov has done anything but fan the fire, but I just wanted to say keep going after him. It's a worthy pursuit that will by nature will get you yourself called out at times (just the cost of being part of a community that is aware of these complex navigations). Criticism of this particular aspect of the story is not criticism of the entire effort, just a necessity of maintaining a community that is safe for all potential victims.

-US archaeologist

Anonymous said...

I can only report on what I remember about Machu Picchu exhibition which I saw.

https://news.yale.edu/2003/01/15/major-exhibition-machu-picchu-opens-january-26-yale-peabody-museum

The story going around was that Richard Burger was inspired by the realization that so much of the material from the site was still at Yale and that it would make a stunning venue. Then word began to circulate around the archaeological community that someone in Lima looked into the files and realized that Peru had documents from Bingham assuring the Peruvian government that the artifacts and art would be returned. But Yale never did.

The exhibition had traveled around the country to great fascination by the public now re-introduced to the Inca through History Channel Discovery Channel etc. and Burger was very pleased with himself. But then "up jumped the devil" when the Marion True Getty scandal blew up. Italian authorities had recovered photos of looted antiquities on Italian sites that were later found in the possession of the Getty Villa with phony provenience. The Italians indicted True and sent a scare throughout museums across the country. The Getty resisted representing True and hung her out to dry. This scared the crap out of curators. Institutions were taking heavy hits from their benefactors and the SAA was going nuts calling for zero tolerance. So Italy and Greece were basically extorting institutions into returning antiquities which they were willing to do at almost any cost to avoid the drawn out adverse publicity. Indictments and exposure to the international press became a tool for what amounted to a blackmail-like strategy.

Since the looting of Sipan, Peru had always been front page news and SOMEONE in Lima got the brilliant idea of going after Yale University just as the Macchu Picchu exhibition was finishing its tour. Burger, an egomaniac, was shocked that anyone would question his exhibition and being just as freaked out as every other curator in the country was told to do what ever it took to clean up this mess. An archaeologist's biggest fear is that he will be declared persona-non-grata by the very country that he has dedicated his life to promoting so Burger would cop to almost anything.

So was it LJCB who tried to blackmail Yale into giving him a degree? Given what the institutions were willing to do to get out of the press over this I wouldn't be at all surprised.

At that time the international looting scandals caused just as much if not more of a furor than the outing of these Andeanist sexual predators. But in this case it was the authorities of Italy, Greece, Peru and Mexico among other countries that really had these archaeologists by the balls.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter above: This is the sort of sloppy recounting that undermines the real work trying to be done, and sadly is found in many of the comments. The Machu Picchu exhibit opened in 2004. Castillo became a Vice Minister ten years later, long after all the publicity and litigation. A bit of basic homework please.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea if AnonymousSeptember 8, 2020 at 10:35 PM is true, but the previous comment poo pooing it clearly missed its point. I think the exhibition and aftermath was pointed out because at that time many curators were in hot water. LJC has been powerful for a long time, so the commenter was speculating whether it was LJC who looked into the files around the time of the general scandals to put pressure on Burger and Yale. LJC is indeed known for his blackmail techniques, so I think that’s why the commenter was speculating that it was Castillo or one of his cronies who looked into it. I think that it’s speculation, but to the commenter above, please show a bit more reading comprehension and “basic homework.”

Anonymous said...

Sadly and sloppy huh... ok, here's some research then. I never meant to suggest that LJC was Vice Minister in 2004. These negotiations were drawn out over years between the closing of the exhibit after its national tour by 2006 and 2011 because Yale resisted returning them. Sorry I referred to memory, but I don't see anything on line that really contradicts what I wrote.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/02/yale-agrees-return-machu-picchu-artifacts-peru

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous September 9, 2020 at 11:39 AM, I wonder if the Ministry of Culture and others are silent on the Machu Picchu extortion because it would also make them look bad? The silence is deafening on such a huge story. This is Machu Picchu! Jewel of Peru and international cultural heritage! And LJC tried to pimp it out to satisfy his vanity! Glad Yale said no, but I wonder how many deals were done in the dark by Castillo that were successful...

Anonymous said...

Arqueóloga peruana por acá. Me pasaron el comunicado por medio de una amiga cercana que me pidió firmar diciendo que era para respaldar a las mujeres que venían siendo atacadas por todo el tema de Castillo. Obviamente mi primer impulso fue “por su puesto que firmo”. Pero les voy a contar la gran estafa de este pseudo movimiento de “protección de mujeres” y la forma que varios de sus signatarios fueron estafados, haciéndolos poner su nombre y respaldo a un documento que no tenían idea de lo que guardaba realmente. Lo primero que llamó mi atención fue la forma en que llegó a mí, con un mensaje de “no lo pases a nadie porque no queremos que lo saboteen”, a lo que pensé “seguro tienen miedo que Luis Jaime se entere y quiera tomar represalias”, pero NO, NADA QUE VER!, porque entre las firmas campantes estaba la de su buen amigo Larry Coben y toditos sus entenados, como decía un comentario en Facebook “solo faltaba la firma de Gary Urton” en ese comunicado. Pero lo turbio no termina ahí, para “animarte” a firmar, las organizadoras de este escrito no tuvieron mejor idea que poner primeros en la lista de firmantes a los “pesos pesados” de la arqueología peruana, cuando abrías el documento encontrabas como PRIMERA FIRMANTE SG y a LGL. Una manipulación mayúscula a las personas que, de buena fe como yo, si estaban interesadas en firmar una carta de apoyo a víctimas. Sí, a víctimas, no a las mujeres que en un acto de suma cobardía estafaron a una parte de la comunidad arqueológica peruana, haciéndoles firmar un documento sin decirles las verdaderas intenciones de su comunicado, que aprovecharon de las buenas intenciones de personas decentes para continuar con su campaña de apañamiento de los delitos de LJC. Lamento mucho que varios de mis colegas ahora no puedan desdecirse de su firma, pero he conversado con muchos, y no estaban al tanto de los pormenores de esta situación. Lo bueno dentro de todo, es que este acto vergonzoso ha hecho que muchos despierten, comiencen a compartir información y espero que pronto salga a la luz los actos de corrupción en los que han estado inmersas muchas de las promotoras de este engaño.

Anonymous said...

Estimada Arqueóloga peruana, Thank you for the information. For me this helps clarify the source for what became a lot of the confusing exchange on this blog. That was the intent obviously.

Michael Balter said...

A colleague has been kind enough to do a rough translation of the above comment for those who do not read Spanish:


Thank you for your comment and critical thinking, September 9, 2020 at 12:23 PM! Some archaeologists who signed it thought they were signing for the real victims and their allies who were the object of defamation by this group. For those who don't speak Spanish, here is a rough translation:

Peruvian archaeologist here. The letter was passed on to me through a close friend who asked me to sign saying that it was to support the women who had been attacked in regards to the whole Castillo case. Obviously, my first impulse was "Of course I will sign." But let me to tell you about the great scam of this pseudo "protection of women" movement and how several of its signatories were scammed, making them put their name and endorsement of a document that they had no idea about its real purpose. The first thing that caught my attention was the way it came to me, with a message of “don't pass it on to anyone because we don't want them to sabotage it”, to which I thought “surely they are afraid that Luis Jaime will find out and want to retaliate ", But NO, NOTHING LIKE THIS!, because among the signatures that were campaigning was that of his good friend Larry Coben and all of his loyalists, as a comment on Facebook said,"Only Gary Urton's signature is missing" in that statement. But the shadiness does not end there: to "encourage" you to sign, the organizers of this letter had the great idea of putting the "heavyweights" of Peruvian archeology first on the list of signatories, so that when you opened the document you see the FIRST SIGNATORIES are SG and LGL. A tremendous manipulation of people who, in good faith like me, were interested in signing a letter of support for victims. Yes, to the actual victims, not to the women who in an act of extreme cowardice tricked a part of the Peruvian archaeological community, making them sign a document without telling them the true intentions of their letter, which took advantage of the good intentions of decent people to continue with their campaign of covering up the crimes of LJC. I am very sorry that several of my colleagues are now unable to back down from their signature, but I have spoken with many, and they were not aware of the details of this situation. The bright side to all this is that this shameful act has made many wake up and begin to share information, and I hope that the acts of corruption in which many of the promoters of this deception have been immersed will soon come to light.

Michael Balter said...

Apologies, I accidentally deleted the following comment, that happens when I am working on my IPhone and hit the wrong link (try to remember to expand the screen.)

I would like to be able to do this but Blogger does not allow it. Commenters have two choices, identify themselves or be Anonymous, and there is no way I am aware to distinguish between different anonymous people. I think that is best so that no one will assume anything about who the commenters are.


Lee Rudolph has left a new comment on your post "A case study in lying to protect a serial abuser: ...":

Mr. Balter, it would be really helpful to readers of your blog (and I don't see how it could in any way be harmful to anyone, not even to possible bad actors), if the various "Anonymous" posters could be distinguished from each other (only to the extent that any two posts from the identical same address would have the same numerical or alphabetical tag added to the end of the word "Anonymous"—no attempt would have to be, or ought to be, made to lump together different "Anonymous" personae of the same anonymous poster, supposing that there are such...which doesn't seem unlikely to me). Perhaps your blogging platform could do that automatically? I hate to ask you to undertake it yourself, in a situation when you are expending so much effort and time on pressing legal matters and journalism. But, again, it would surely be helpful to readers.

Anonymous said...

Solo quiero dejar este post como constancia que Student L tiene una contratación dirigida con la cooperación española, pasándose encima a arqueólogos de la zona. Cuando se publiquen los resultados, pondré el link, pero quería publicarlo antes que suceda para dejar constancia. Así funcionan las redes de corrupción de LJC, no lo olviden. Acá no hay meritocracia, hay corrupción.

Anonymous said...

The National Superintendency of Higher University Education (Sunedu) reported that between July and August 2020 it sanctioned four public universities and three private universities for inaction or faults in the face of cases of sexual harassment that occurred within the university community. It would be interesting for the victims of Castillo to report to SUNEDU the PUCP for INACTION.

Anonymous said...

I think the answer to your question about why there's been relative silence on the Yale PhD/MP thing is that many of us can totally imagine that this happened. I believe this shows that LJC supporters are not behind much of the outcry about Student L and the issue of whether Ilana Johnson lied or whether she and Student L interpreted your email to Student L in which you told her that you were going to publish as a threat (you may not have intended it as a threat but I can see it could be reasonably interpreted as one). I believe that many people commenting on this issue and your interactions with survivors are not die hard LJC apologists but rather people who can 100% imagine LJC joking/not really joking about deserving a PhD, and want to keep the focus there rather than devolving into fights about whether tweets with third parties are lies, misrepresentations, misinterpretations, etc.

Anonymous said...

All quite true about student L. Several students and teachers made fun of her, not only about her knowledge of English, but also about her published articles. Her articles were written together with someone else, and in the articles in which she appears alone as the author, they belong to the San José de Moro report. So in truth, her admission is too suspicious.
On the other hand, people who worked with her in Moro, said that in her work as an assistant in the laboratory in Pucp, she did nothing more than look at clothes and shoes online, look for entertainment news, and talk to her friends on the computer. They also said that she sent the younger students to write and correct texts when she applied for grants. As to whether she was "la mujer" of Luis Jaime, I cannot attest to that, but at this stage who knows.