Widgets Magazine

Retired English professor accused of sexual assault by former graduate student

Note: This report has been updated with comments from Franco Moretti and Frances Ferguson in a separate post.

Franco Moretti, Stanford professor emeritus in the English department, faces allegations of sexual assault, harassment and rape made by Kimberly Latta, his former graduate student at UC Berkeley.

Latta wrote in a Facebook post Sunday morning that she had contacted Stanford authorities about the sexual assault and rape that occurred at Berkeley while Moretti was a visiting professor in 1984-1985 (first reported at Stanford Politics). Berkeley later invited him to return as a visiting Beckman Professor in 2002. The full text of the post is available below the article.

According to Latta, she initially reported the incident to Berkeley’s Title IX officer but was pressured to state only Moretti’s initials, as the officer was “a friend of his.” Latta said she remained silent about the incident over the years because Moretti threatened to “ruin [her] career” if she pressed charges against him. After earning her degree, Latta was an assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and Saint Louis University before switching careers to psychotherapy and writing.

Moretti, who retired from Stanford last spring and is on leave this academic year, is known for his work on literary theory and digital humanities. He was unavailable by phone when The Daily ccontacted him this evening.

University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in an email to The Daily that the report is “new” to the administration, and that it has reached out to Latta for further information.

“The professor has retired and is not currently on campus,” wrote Miranda. “We of course are concerned and will be reviewing the report and whether there are any actions for Stanford to take.”

 

 

Contact Fangzhou Liu at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

***

After many years of silence, and with a heavy but angry heart, I sent this email to the appropriate authorities at Stanford University today:

“Subject: Sexual Predator Franco Moretti

Dear Those Who are Concerned about Sexual Abusers at Stanford:

I am writing to report that when I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley in 1984-85, my then-professor Franco Moretti sexually stalked, pressured, and raped me. He specifically said to me, “You Americans girls say no when you mean yes.” He raped me in my apartment in Oakland. He also would frequently push me up against the wall in his office, right next to the window that looked out at the library, and push up my shirt and bra and forcibly kiss me, against my will. I reported him to the Title IX officer, who was then Frances Ferguson, Ph.D. She was a friend of his and urged me not to make a report. I insisted, but she persuaded me to leave only his initials in her documents, in case someone else reported that he had abused her. I have no reason to believe that she did not do what she said she would do. I told Franco about my conversation with Ferguson, and he threatened to ruin my career if I pressed charges against him. He said he had powerful friends who were attorneys who would ruin my name. I remained silent for all these years because I was in academia. I have told a number of people about it privately, however. These are upstanding, well-known professors of History and English at other institutions, who would certainly corroborate my story.

I am encouraged to report in the wake of the Weinstein and #metoo movements.

This man has certainly assaulted many other women over the course of his fabulously successful career. It’s time that the truth came out about this predator. I will take any lie detector and make any affidavits necessary to assure that he is brought to justice.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Latta

Kimberly S Latta, PhD, LSW

Pittsburgh, PA

 

About Fangzhou Liu

Fangzhou Liu ’19 is a news editor majoring in computer science and linguistics. Raised in Singapore, she still shares her compatriots’ interests in street food and freebies and your dad’s taste in music. Contact Fang with questions and job leads at fzliu96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.