These aren’t happy days in the ultra-liberal Happy Valley of Western Massachusetts, especially for Mount Holyoke College, which seems to keep hiring its own headaches.
Last month, after the Globe reported that a student alleged she had been raped by an employee whom the college had hired despite his being at the center of one of the nation’s most notorious bullying cases, Mount Holyoke president Sonya Stephens announced the college would review its hiring practices.
And now the college has placed its newly hired security chief on leave after students complained about him supporting President Trump in social media posts.
The employee facing allegations of rape, Sean Mulveyhill, was fired March 22. Mulveyhill, 26, has not been criminally charged, but things got worse for him last week, when a judge extended for a year the protection order against him obtained by a 21-year-old Mount Holyoke junior who says he raped her after she gave him a ride home from campus where he worked as a bartender.
Over an extraordinary two-day hearing in Eastern Hampshire District Court, Mulveyhill’s lawyer, Michelle Cruz, argued that her client had consensual sex with the student. Mount Holyoke forbids employees from having romantic or sexual relationships with students, even if consensual.
Judge Bruce Melikian believed the alleged victim.
“The testimony presented at the hearing, together with the documents admitted into evidence in the form of the text messages and photographs, is sufficient for the Court to find that the Plaintiff has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the Defendant ‘through force, threat or duress’ caused the Plaintiff to involuntarily engage in sexual relations,” the judge wrote.
The alleged victim’s lawyer, Vince DeMore, said the findings represent an independent endorsement of his client’s credibility, and hopes Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan will present evidence to a grand jury to decide whether Mulveyhill should face charges.
“The burden of proof that my client overcame is higher than the burden of proof a grand jury would have to find to issue an indictment,” said DeMore, a former prosecutor.
Sullivan’s office declined to comment.The alleged victim’s family and others, meanwhile, want to know why Mulveyhill was hired in the first place, given his past. In 2011, he pleaded guilty to criminal harassment for being the instigator of a bullying campaign against a South Hadley High School freshman named Phoebe Prince, who later committed suicide.
Mount Holyoke’s examination of its hiring practices got more complicated this week when Stephens announced that campus police chief Daniel Hect had been placed on administrative leave after students complained about his social media postings.
Some students are outraged, saying Hect’s since-deleted Twitter feed showed that he “liked” tweets that praised the NRA and the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on immigration, which some students insist makes him unfit to oversee a diverse campus community.
Hect’s department also oversees security at Smith College, where president Kathleen McCartney agreed with Stephens’s decision to place Hect on leave.
In a statement, Stephens denied that Hect, former police chief at Xavier University, was placed on leave because of his social media posts, saying only, “We are reviewing several concerns and cannot comment further.”
The statement said the college does not review social media posts or take political beliefs or personal views expressed on social media into account when hiring.
Cue the laugh track on Fox News.
Ellen Heffernan, president of Spelman Johnson, the executive search company that recommended Hect, said her firm does not conduct social media scrubs of prospective candidates.
As a First Amendment absolutist, I support Hect’s right to endorse whatever political viewpoints he wants. But, realistically, if you want to head the police department of two women’s colleges in the Happy Valley, figuratively donning a MAGA hat is not a good look. It would be like the police chief at Bob Jones University tweeting how much he likes Elizabeth Warren.
Hect, a native Midwesterner and Air Force veteran, will soon learn the state of free speech in this state’s Happy Valley.
In other words, he doesn’t stand a chance.Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.