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Cambridge graduate sues University over its handling of sexual misconduct claim

Cambridge graduate sues University over its handling of sexual misconduct claim saying staff member ‘warned her to think carefully about how complaint could affect her place in department’

  • Academic bombarded Danielle Bradford with up to 50 texts and sexts each day
  • He was asked to send letter of apology and stay away but still works on campus 
  • Student won her case but says the process had left her feeling criminalised 
  • She said: ‘I was told I should think very carefully about making a complaint’ 
  • Cambridge denies the claim and says that its rules do keep their students safe 

A former Cambridge student is suing the university after winning a ‘traumatising’ sexual harassment case against her supervisor that left her feeling like a criminal.

The unnamed academic bombarded Danielle Bradford with up to 50 texts a day with many of the messages packed with lewd remarks.

Her case is one of only two upheld by Cambridge University since it launched its campaign to better help victims of sexual misconduct three years ago.

Two other graduates claim their complaints about sexual misdemeanours were dismissed by university bosses without proper investigation, it has emerged.

Miss Bradford revealed today she is suing because she claims the university tried to pressure her to drop her complaint and was allegedly told: ‘I should think about it very carefully because making a complaint could affect my place in my department’. 

Cambridge graduate Danielle Bradford is suing her former university claiming they descriminated against her during a harassment case she won against a supervisor

Miss Bradford says that the process was flawed and unfair and the punishment handed to the academic was insufficient

Miss Bradford says that the process was flawed and unfair and the punishment handed to the academic was insufficient

She added in an interview with Channel 4 News: ‘Even after my complaint was upheld I was still treated as if ‘I’ had done something wrong. I was unable to access certain buildings, had to tell my supervisors that I couldn’t access certain buildings but was not allowed to tell them why because of the confidentiality rules’.

Danielle battled the university for two years, including while doing her finals and graduating.

She added: ‘I was treated as just another witness, not a complainant, so I had no rights and no representation. I did not have the right to appeal any decisions made, have any input into said decisions, no right to a lawyer, or to see the documentation.’ 

She said that harassment took place during fieldwork and her harasser, who hasn’t been named, ‘still goes to the same field site with young undergraduate women each year’ with ‘no restrictions put on his teaching’. 

Revealing she is now suing the University for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, she added: ‘If nothing is done to protect the people involved and the wider university community, then that process isn’t working’. 

The graduate, who still lives in Cambridge, says the disciplinary procedure against her harasser left her traumatised and victimised.

After losing the case the supervisor had to write her a letter of apology and was banned from contacting her – but faced no further punishment. 

The University denies the claims made by Danielle and is expected to fight her in court.

A spokesman said: ‘The University of Cambridge takes the personal safety of its students very seriously and is recognised within the higher education sector for its leading role in tackling harassment and sexual misconduct.

‘We accept that in the past the adoption of the criminal standard of proof in our disciplinary process has affected students’ confidence in the procedure and was out of line with other universities.

‘To help counter this the University put in place additional measures specifically targeting harassment and sexual misconduct and offers specialist support to students who have been subjected to any form of sexual misconduct.

‘From October 1, the disciplinary rules will change so that a finding of breach of our disciplinary code can be made on the ‘balance of probabilities’ rather than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. 

‘The process is designed to take action to investigate whether a student has breached University rules and, if so, to impose proportionate sanctions. The discipline process exists to keep students safe while in the University environment’.