Crandall University, a private Christian institution in Moncton, New Brunswick, has defended its decision to fire John Stackhouse Jr., a former professor of religious studies, after an independent investigation found that he made inappropriate or sexually-oriented statements to students in 2020 and 2021.

Stackhouse, a prominent evangelical academic and author, joined Crandall in 2015 from Regent College in Vancouver. He taught several courses at Crandall, including two mandatory ones for students, one on the Christian way and another on ethics. 

In March 2023, an Instagram account called “dobettercrandall” posted several allegations of harassment, many of them involving Stackhouse, though he was not named directly. The account claimed that Stackhouse made comments about students’ appearance, sexuality, and personal lives, and sent them unwanted emails and messages. 

The allegations prompted Crandall to hire labour lawyer, Joel Michaud, to conduct a six-month investigation, which involved interviewing 14 witnesses, including current and former students, faculty, and staff. The investigation concluded that Stackhouse’s behaviour constituted sexual harassment and violated Crandall’s policies and values. 

In November 2023, Crandall announced that it had terminated Stackhouse’s employment and made a summary of the investigation public on its website. The summary did not mention Stackhouse by name, but referred to him as “the faculty member.” The summary detailed multiple instances of Stackhouse’s misconduct, such as:

– Making comments about female students’ clothing, hair, and makeup, and telling them they looked “hot” or “sexy”.

– Asking students about their dating and sexual history, and offering unsolicited advice or opinions on their relationships.

– Sending emails and messages to students that were flirtatious, suggestive, or inappropriate, and continuing to do so even after being asked to stop.

– Making jokes or remarks about sex, masturbation, pornography, and sexual orientation in class or in private conversations with students.

– Touching or hugging students without their consent and invading their personal space.

The summary also stated that Stackhouse’s behaviour created a hostile and uncomfortable environment for students, and that some of them felt intimidated, humiliated, or degraded by his actions. Some students also reported feeling anxious, depressed, or traumatized as a result of Stackhouse’s harassment. 

Stackhouse has denied the allegations and filed a lawsuit against Crandall, claiming that the university damaged his reputation by publishing the findings of a “flawed” investigation. He also claims that Crandall wrongfully terminated his employment, alleging that his termination letter lacked detail and justification for his firing.

Crandall, however, maintains that it acted in good faith and in accordance with its mission and identity. The university says that it did not post anything on its website that was not true and that Stackhouse, through his conduct, tarnished the reputation of Crandall and caused it to suffer loss. 

“Paramount at Crandall University is the safety and security of its students,” the university said in a statement. “We cannot and will not tolerate behaviour from its administration, faculty or staff that in any way violates the university’s mission and identity.”

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