University boss sent stalking victim email fretting over 'reputation'

Newcastle University Vice Chancellor accidentally sent revenge porn victim student’s father an email worrying about how the case would affect their ‘reputation’ after man who targeted her was allowed to resume classes

  • The woman had emailed Professor Chris Day about her ex returning to study
  • Jefferson Young had admitted stalking her at a Newcastle court in October 2018
  • But the victim was stunned to hear that he was returning to study in September
  • She emailed Prof. Day who said ‘this looks like another Warwick about to happen’

Jefferson Young, then 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of stalking and disclosing private material at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court in October 2018

A Newcastle University Vice Chancellor accidentally sent a revenge porn victim’s father an email fretting about how the case would affect the institution’s ‘reputation.’

Professor Chris Day said he feared another ‘another Warwick’ in the response which he accidentally copied to the victim’s father.

Last year, male students at Warwick University were allowed to return to their studies after they were suspended for setting up a vile ‘rape chat’ messaging group. 

The young woman had been complaining to Prof. Day that her ex-boyfriend Jefferson Young, who was convicted of stalking her last year, had been allowed to quietly return to the university for postgraduate studies this September.

Young, then 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of stalking and disclosing private material at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court in October 2018.

He had bombarded his ex with twisted messages and sent an explicit video of her to her new boyfriend.  

He was handed a 12-month community order and a restraining order.

He had turned up the victim’s place of work, made self-harm threats, and told her he would go to her home.

But when the woman contacted Newcastle University to ask that action be taken against him, she was ‘shocked’ by the response, which followed disciplinary hearing in which she says she was asked to provide ‘evidence’ of claims he’d admitted in court.

She said: ‘He had already been convicted, I already had the restraining order, in my head they shouldn’t have had to talk to me at all, they should have acted.

‘I was absolutely shocked when I got an email saying he would be allowed back onto university grounds. I asked if I could appeal, but they said I wasn’t allowed to appeal because it wasn’t my hearing.

‘At the time I was not OK, it was all going way over my head. I was trying to get back to university and I just wanted to forget it.

‘I thought, OK, I’ll just go to fewer lectures – I actually got an email from the university about missing lectures, but my tutor told them it was fine. I got a 2:1 that year, I did manage it, but I did restrict myself.

‘I had that drive in my head saying ‘it’s just one more year, then it will be fine.’

But in September she was horrified to hear through a peer that the former Chemistry student Young, from Lincolnshire, was returning to Newcastle for a further year for a postgraduate course.

The woman said Prof. Day’s email made it look as though ‘reputation’ was also more important than her security and ability to enjoy university life

She asked university staff if this was true, but they said they couldn’t confirm the identity of particular students, and she eventually found Young listed on the university email system.

When she sent an email to Prof. Day, demanding an explanation, she was stunned by the reply which he had also copied to her father, who she had CC’d into the original message.

Asking for ‘urgent background’, it said: ‘On the face of it this looks like another “Warwick” about to happen on our own campus with the associated risk for the student and our precarious reputation.’

The woman said Prof. Day’s email made it look as though ‘reputation’ was also more important than her security and ability to enjoy university life.

She said: ‘We were so shocked, and then it all kind of sank in and we were really angry.

‘I’ve really struggled through all this, because it’s hard for a student to stand up to the University, I honestly don’t think I would be doing this if didn’t have the support of my family.

‘Other people might not have that support and would really rely on the support of the University, and that’s just not there.

‘Now I feel that whatever support the university gives will be tainted, because the Vice Chancellor has said all this – I feel like now, they’re looking at it because they have to, not because they want to support their students.’ 

The university insists it cannot comment on the individual case as a result of data protection regulations, but says it is acting on the petition.

A petition was launched by It Happens Here, a group aimed at ending sexual violence on campus, and signed by over 1,000 people in just five days after the woman’s story was shared online. 

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: ‘We are aware that emails have been circulated to the media and there has been inaccurate speculation by people who aren’t familiar with the situation.

‘The story is being run by student media and the Vice Chancellor’s email has been taken out of context.

‘By law we cannot comment on individual cases or disclose any measures the University has taken in regards to them.’

An updated response to the scandal today said: ‘We are aware of the petition and this week the Vice-Chancellor met with the Students’ Union and has agreed to launch a review of our student complaints and disciplinary procedures working with students and their elected officers.’

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