State authorities have opened a criminal investigation into a group of longtime professors at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan—one of the country's leading training grounds for police and other law enforcement officials—following student allegations of rampant sexual misconduct and drug dealing at the Midtown campus dating back to 2014.
The university, which is part of the City University of New York, has placed four professors on paid administrative leave, and the state Inspector General and Manhattan District Attorney are now in the early stages of probing the allegations, officials said. Through lawyers, the professors denied all wrongdoing.
Two of the accusers spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with the NY Post this weekend, detailing a "world of deviance" in which veteran professors aggressively preyed on and tried to "pimp out" female students, while openly selling drugs out of their offices. One professor, former anthropology department chair Anthony Marcus, is accused of raping 24-year-old Naomi Haber during an academic conference in 2015.
“He put his hands around my throat, choked me with both hands and forced himself inside me without warning," Haber alleges. "The only thing I could do was to go numb and detach myself from my body."
Both Haber and a second accuser, 39-year-old Claudia Cojocaru, say that they were sexually harassed by Ric Curtis, an anthropology professor who's been at the school for three decades. The 64-year-old is a well-known drug policy expert and the former chair of the sociology, anthropology, and law and police science departments. He was also the alleged ring leader of what is apparently known as "the swamp," a secluded floor in a campus building on 54th Street that victims say served as an epicenter of sexual harassment and drug use.
Cojocaru also says that she was groped by Curtis during a party in Brooklyn, then shamed by a different professor, Barry Spunt, for her "unwillingness to sit on Ric’s lap to show ‘gratitude’ about being ‘helped’ by Dr. Curtis." Haber, meanwhile, says that Curtis once tried to "entice" a visiting professor to join the staff at John Jay by encouraging her to have sex with him. He also introduced Haber to Leonardo Dominguez, a 27-year-old adjunct professor who allegedly "continuously" harassed her.
“We’d be sitting on Ric’s couch, and [Dominguez] would try and put his hands on my legs and on my butt," according to Haber. “He would also stick his hands down my pants to see what underwear I was wearing and to feel my 'warm vagina.'"
Marcus, Curtis, Spunt and Dominguez did not return to campus for the fall semester, the Post reports. According to the Times, there are allegations against other professors, who have not yet been placed on leave, as well. The two woman filed complaints with the school's Title IX office in May, but have criticized the university's handling of the investigation. John Jay, which maintains close ties to law enforcement officials, reportedly conducted an internal review before alerting police or prosecutors.
"They were incredibly rude and victim-degrading," Cojocaru the Times. “They made us perform like circus animals, distorted the facts, and distorted what we talked about. They tried to brush the whole thing under the rug, so to speak. They retraumatized us by making us relive all sorts of traumatic experiences."
The Times also notes that the school's inquiry turned up "significant quantities" of drugs and drug paraphernalia in some professors' offices, which were not turned over to police until this month. In a statement, a spokesperson for the college, Richard Relkin, said the school was cooperating with investigators.
“Throughout this ongoing investigation, we have been working under the direction of law enforcement, to ensure the appropriate authorities are aware of the situation and may take any action they deem appropriate," he said.