This November, a now-former trustee at Linfield University will go on trial for eight counts of sexual abuse. The accusations against him, brought by four different women, date back to 2017. Since that time, a series of Linfield students and faculty have brought more accusations of harassment and inappropriate touching against multiple other trustees and one high-ranking administrator at the small, private university in McMinnville.
The story has largely been bubbling under the surface, drawing continuing local coverage, namely from the Oregonian/OregonLive. Recently, Linfield's troubles went national, when the New York Times reported the school had fired a tenured professor who tweeted he'd been trying to shed light on the issue.
In the midst of all of that, allegations of racism have flown back and forth.
A spokesman for Linfield declined KGW's request for an interview but answered questions via email and provided an online fact sheet with the school's perspective on most of the recent allegations.
One employee's allegations:
Most of the accusers in the Linfield cases are declining to comment or be identified publicly. Some are tied up in legal battles. Dr. Jamie Friedman is one of the few agreeing to speak on the record.
"I'm outraged, and that's why I'm giving this interview, frankly" she said, via Zoom Monday. "I mean, this isn't right."
Dr. Friedman is an associate professor of English literature and gender studies at Linfield. She said she's reported two instances of, what she believe to be, sexual misconduct to her employer. The first happened at an event for faculty and students in 2018.
"All of a sudden, I feel someone come behind me and rub my arms with both of their hands, and then a whisper in my ear that he was looking forward to meeting me again," she said.
Dr. Friedman turned to see who was whispering in her ear and said she saw Linfield President Miles K. Davis, who was new on the job at the time.
"I wasn't expecting it," she said. "I felt boxed in and just deeply uncomfortable."
Dr. Friedman said she went to Linfield's HR representative.
"I was told that there was likely nothing that they could do," she said. "I was told explicitly that that's just how men are."
In an email to KGW Tuesday, Linfield's chief marketing officer Scott Nelson said that point about the HR rep's comment is "...not consistent with the information we have."
The second instance happened in 2019 at a dinner for Linfield's Board of Trustees, one of whom was seated next to Dr. Friedman.
"He put his hand on my bare shoulder, on my back, on my arm, on my thigh, pointed to my empty ring finger and asked me if there was a Mr. Friedman," Dr. Friedman said. "He suggested that we should go out afterwards or that we shouldn't have come to the dinner at all. We should have been doing something else together."
The behavior made her uncomfortable. So did the timing.
"The vote for my tenure case was the next day, and that individual was voting," she said.
This time, Linfield hired an outside investigator who, the school confirms, found the events Dr. Friedman reported happened but did not violate Linfield policy.
"That actually doesn't make it better. That makes it worse," Dr. Friedman said. "If there are no policies in place that keep women from being rubbed and squeezed and winked at, that keep women from having someone whisper in their ear ... then we need new policies."
New policies may, indeed, be on the way. A spokesperson for the school pointed to Linfield's online fact sheet on the allegations, which reads "In 2020, President Davis empowered two campus-wide task forces to investigate policies related to students and employees. Participants included faculty, students and staff."
The lawsuit and the criminal case:
Months after Dr. Friedman reported her second allegation of misconduct, a student went public with an accusation of her own.
As first reported by the Oregonian/OregonLive, in late 2019, Linfield student AnnaMarie Motis filed a federal lawsuit against the university and longtime Trustee David Jubb.
Motis, through her attorney, declined KGW's request for an interview.
The suit alleges Jubb, who has since resigned from the board, assaulted Motis at a trustee dinner in February 2019 by reaching his hand under her dress and touching her genitals. In the wake of that suit's filing, more allegations against Jubb surfaced, and criminal charges followed. David Jubb now faces eight counts of sexual abuse against four different victims. One of the charges is sexual abuse in the first degree, which makes it a Class B felony in Oregon.
The allegations date back to 2017. That's key because, in that federal lawsuit, Motis alleges Linfield was aware of Jubb's conduct and didn't do enough to stop him.
Nelson said via email, in some of those earlier cases, the school failed to make contact with the complainants. In others, a spokesman says, complainants asked the school not to investigate. The university adds Jubb was instructed not to attend future student/trustee events.
Jubb, through his attorney, declined to comment. Court records show his jury trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.
A professor is fired:
In March, Daniel Pollack-Pelzner tweeted a thread about why he, a tenured professor, believes he was fired from Linfield. He said he'd tried to help students report instances of abuse by trustees, tweeting the Board of Trustees Chair "...accused me—a Jewish trustee—of harboring a secret agenda to grab power."
He wrote Linfield President Miles K. Davis said "people like him" were destroying Linfield, adding Davis had previously made comments about measuring "the size of Jewish noses."
The Anti-Defamation League called for President Davis to resign. The NAACP alleged racial bias against Davis, who is Black, and came to Linfield's defense.
The New York Times (NYT) covered the ordeal earlier this month. Pollack-Pelzner, citing his attorney's advice, declined KGW's request for an interview.
Linfield has categorically denied Pollack-Pelzner's story, adding they hired an outside firm to investigate the allegations of racist comments.
"The law firm found no way to prove that any such remarks were made," read Linfield's online fact sheet.
In a letter obtained by the Oregonian/OregonLive, President Davis said Pollack-Pelzner was "engaged in a smear campaign" against him.
The NYT reported the university sent a statement, saying Pollack-Pelzner was fired for cause.
"He has engaged in conduct that is harmful to the university; deliberately violated instructions to preserve the attorney-client privilege," and "deliberately circulated false statements about the university, its employees and its board" and "refused to comply with university policies," the statement said, according to the NYT.
In an email to KGW, Nelson said about the firing, "The university believes that is a matter for it to discuss with the former employee or his representatives. It does not intend to discuss that publicly."
What's next for Linfield?:
Despite those calls from the Anti-Defamation League, President Miles K. Davis has said he will not resign.
Via email, Scott Nelson said, "Linfield's policies comply with federal law and are consistent with other Oregon colleges and universities. There is an extensive Title IX team at the university, which includes the coordinator, four deputies and internal investigators."
He reiterated the school is investigating those policies.
Some alumni, like Chris Gilly-Forrer, hope it's enough.
A 2013 graduate of Linfield, he's been following the mounting allegations since he first spotted headlines about his alma mater in 2019.
"To know that a place that was so special for myself and a number of alumni was harboring a culture that would allow such things to take place was deeply distressing," he said in an interview Monday. "To me, it ran counter to everything that I was taught there"
Gilly-Forrer helps run the website "Save Our Linfield". He wants to see Pollack-Pelzner reinstated in full.
He also wants a top-down overhaul of university policy surrounding sexual harassment and assault, whether or not that means a top-down overhaul of the school's leadership.
"I would like to see an administration at Linfield that understands that their first and most important charge ... is that of its faculty and its students and their well-being," he said. Gilly-Forrer added, if that were already the case, "I do not think we would be in this situation."