CHE story is here; the reporter wrote to me as follows:
I’m gathering reactions from both the Berkeley community and the philosophy community, and gauging the significance of these allegations for Berkeley, which has faced ongoing scrutiny for harassment by its professors since 2015, and for philosophy, a discipline that has seen cases like this many times before. I wonder what you think this news suggests both for Berkeley, where officials said they had reformed their approach to harassment in early 2016 (yet this behavior allegedly took place last summer), and for philosophy, which has struggled to deal with this issue, and now another one of its star scholars is facing serious allegations.
I know you’ve written pieces for CHE about this issue and talked with my colleague Robin a number of times, so I figured you’d be a good source. Would appreciate it if you could give me a quick call today, on either number below, or send an email.
Since I am travelling, I wrote back via e-mail as follows:
I have no comment about Berkeley and its practices, which I know little about.
I have heard rumors for more than 30 years that John Searle had sexual relationships with his students. I do not know any details about those rumors or about the present case. The whole point of a lawsuit is that the matter will hopefully be adjudicated fairly, and then we will know.
I have no doubt that academic philosophy has had a sexual harassment problem, I do not know whether it is worse than other fields. And I am increasingly worried that some of the most prominent cases may have been unfair to the accused. So we should proceed with caution here, until a court can shine a light on what transpired.
At the moment, there is only one of the prominent cases where I now have serious doubts, but I'll write more about that in due course. I hope that a court will get the chance to adjudicate the allegations against Searle.