The Central Connecticut State University community packed a discussion with students Tuesday night to address allegations against a theater professor who is accused of sexual misconduct.
Professor Joshua Perlstein is on paid administrative leave while the school and an independent law firm investigate the allegations, which were first reported by the campus newspaper, The Recorder, according to the university president.
No charges have been filed against Perlstein.
When NBC Connecticut previously reached out to him, Perlstein responded by email, saying "I am cooperating fully with the University. That's all I want to say.”
But at the discussion, students said they are still plagued by the past.
“You do not stay alone in a room with Josh Perlstein. You do not go anywhere near him and you do not let him come within three feet of you this is something students know,” one student said.
Among them, CCSU graduate Anna Kelly accused Perlstein of making improper advances toward her back in 2004.
“It would be such a shame if this became a case of one bad apple but it’s so clearly not the case at all. There are so many victims who have had to fend for themselves on campus because even when they do report their assaults, it’s mishandled, it’s swept under the rug, it’s not dealt with severely,” Kelly said.
Some students felt the university previously failed to protect them.
“It’s just disheartening and disappointing. And the way that the school has been handling things from the past until now is appalling,” Raeann Newberry, a CCSU senior, said.
CCSU President Zulma Toro said Tuesday's standing room only dialogue is proof she's committed to progress. She said the university and an independent law firm are conducting an investigation into the allegations and a task force is being created to examine other campus issues and promote best practices.
But some students still had doubts.
“I’m just thinking about other women at the school myself included who have made reports about sexual assault and instead of talking to them they waited until a story like this hit the news,” said Talia Maselli, a senior theater major.
Toro promised students she is just as interested in answers and action as they are.
“We have much to accomplish together however I am convinced we will emerge from this stronger and our campus will be healthier and safer,” Toro said.