Richard Martin, University of Queensland: A pattern of harassment and university coverup, denial, and now veiled threats against a reporter?

Richard Martin, U of Queensland
Over the past few months I have made a few comments on social media about Richard Martin, a socio-cultural anthropologist at the University of Queensland accused by a number of women of sexual harassment. I have not said too much to date, because it is a sensitive issue involving victims who are still at risk both from retaliation and from perceived personal threats from Martin. Moreover, the university has done everything it can to cover up the allegations.

Many university officials are aware of the situation, including the Head of the School of Social Science, Greg Marston.

Today, however, I received an email from Mr. Anthony Lennon of UQ's Human Resources Division, which I am reproducing below together with my response. I think the communications will speak for themselves for the moment, and perhaps even further discussion of this important case of alleged misconduct. Moreover, the implied threat at the end of Lennon's letter might help explain why victims do not trust UQ to properly investigate cases such as these. But it might also demonstrate that the university realizes it cannot simply ignore the allegations, which is a good thing if true.

Dear Mr Balter

I refer to your two social media posts of 10 September 2019 in relation to a University of Queensland employee, Dr Richard Martin, Director, Culture and Heritage Unit. The posts are reproduced below.

“Richard Martin, cultural anthropologist at U of Queensland, is credibly accused of sexual #harassment by numerous alleged victims. The uni is well aware. I do want to caution Martin not to contact any of them nor to do anything that could be interpreted as intimidation...”

“Also call on Dean @Heatherzwicker to protect students and staff from retaliation of any kind. The misconduct by Martin has a long history and it's long past time #UQ deals with it seriously rather than gaslighting victims.”

I have made appropriate enquiries and have not received any formal allegations of sexual harassment against Dr Martin. The University treats such matters seriously. If you have any information whatsoever that you can provide to me in relation to the allegation you have made please do so as soon as practical. If you do not wish to provide that information you may refer any potential complainant to me, and advise if and when you have done so. If you do not intend to provide any further information or refer any potential complainants to me it would seem appropriate for your communications to cease immediately.

I look forward to your reply.

Anthony Lennon

Anthony Lennon | Associate Director, Human Resources (Workplace Relations)
Human Resources Division |  The University of Queensland  
t:  61 7 3365 3030 |  f: 61 7 3346 3927  |  e:  |  web

This email and any files transmitted with it are intended solely for the use of the addressee(s) and may contain information which is confidential or privileged.  If you receive this email and you are not the addressee(s) [or responsible for the delivery of the email to the addressee(s)], please disregard contents of the email, delete the email and notify the author immediately.

Dear Mr. Lennon,

Thank you for writing.

I don’t know whether it is true that you are not aware of any allegations concerning Richard Martin, but other officials at your university certainly are.

I cannot in good faith advise victims of Martin’s conduct to contact your office, that is a decision they must make for themselves. But I would not blame victims if they did not trust your office to investigate complaints in a fair manner.

Your admonishment that I cease communicating about Richard Martin if I am not willing to cooperate with your office could be interpreted as a veiled threat against a reporter who is simply doing his job in exposing misconduct. I hope I am wrong about that.

Finally, I should also point out that despite the notice at the bottom of your emall that it is confidential, communications with a reporter are only considered confidential and off the record if the reporter in question agrees to it beforehand. Therefore I will take the liberty of publishing your email in the near future.

Best regards,

Michael Balter

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