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Law professor Michele Dauber receives rape threat, suspicious powder

Parts of a Stanford Law building closed after Professor Michele Dauber received a threat of rape and suspicious powder on Wednesday. (ERIC RISBERG/AP Photo).

The Neukom Building in Stanford Law School was partially closed on Wednesday afternoon after an envelope containing a threat of rape and a white powder was sent to law professor and activist Michele Dauber, Dauber confirmed to The Daily on Wednesday afternoon. Dauber is known for her work against sexual assault and for a campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky, who presided over the infamous Brock Turner sexual assault case.

The initial campus-wide alert sent by the Stanford Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) stated that multiple rooms in Neukom were being closed in an “abundance of caution.” At 3:16 p.m. — almost two hours after the initial email alert — SUDPS officials reported that the situation had been resolved and confirmed that the substance was an “inert powder that poses no health concern.”

The note directly referenced the Brock Turner case and recall campaign, stating:

“Since you are going to disrobe Persky, I am going to treat you like ‘Emily Doe.’ Let’s see what kind of sentencing I get for being a rich white male.”

University spokesperson EJ Miranda wrote in an email to The Daily that investigations into the incident are still ongoing. According to Miranda, Stanford remains deeply concerned about the threat of bodily harm against a University faculty member and the inclusion of the substance, despite the lack of direct health danger from the powder.

Dauber said that it was not the first time she had received a rape threat focused around her effort to defend survivors and that the recall movement would not be intimidated. She acknowledged that after threats against her job, rape threats are likely the second most common. When she realized there was powder on this particular hate mail, she turned it over to the police and washed her hands but continued to teach for the day.

A friend and former student of Dauber first opened the envelope, which was designed to look like a greeting card or invitation. Dauber said that both she and her friend touched the powder.

“Threats intended to silence or intimidate members of our community are absolutely unacceptable at Stanford, said Provost Persis Drell, echoing a blog post she published Tuesday.

Dauber said that she did not think that anyone from the Persky campaign was involved; however, she did critique the campaign’s aggressive rhetoric.

“The overheated rhetoric that [the Persky campaign is] using and the level of personal attack that they are engaging in against me is causing these kinds of people who would send these kinds of threats to feel empowered to do it,” Dauber said.

Throughout the statement, Dauber reiterated the importance of staying calm.

“We are not going to be intimidated, we are going to continue to stand with survivors,” Dauber said of the recall campaign.


This article has been updated following a press announcement at 4 p.m. in the Law School.

Contact Courtney Douglas at ccd4 ‘at’ stanford.edu. Contact Ada Statler at adastat ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

About Courtney Douglas

Courtney Douglas is a sophomore from Coronado, California studying English Lit, Political Science and Human Rights. Before stepping into the Managing Editor role, Courtney was a news desk editor and a staff writer. She also established the Community Life & Inclusion Program (CLIP) at The Daily. Her favorite person in the world is her younger brother, Collin. Contact Courtney at ccd4 'at' stanford.edu.

About Ada Statler

Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.