The University of Toronto says it had no idea until this week that one of its instructors is facing a sexual assault charge over an alleged incident from late 2011.
James Andrew Payne, 53, is a senior lecturer in the university’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, where he also co-ordinates a writing program. First hired to the faculty in 2008, he had earned a doctorate in English at the U of T in 2003.
Dr. Payne, who goes by Andrew or Andy professionally, will next appear in a Toronto court on Sept. 5 to face accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman, then 21, in her west-end home on Dec. 10, 2011. But the university says it only learned of his legal troubles on Wednesday when contacted by reporters.
Course calendars for the last academic year show that Dr. Payne continued teaching, leading a pair of classes in the master of architecture program: “Urban Design, Culture and Media” and “Topics in Landscape Architecture History Theory.”
“The university has just learned of the charge against a member of its teaching staff. It is a serious charge, and the university is treating it as such,” a spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “We review all of these situations to ensure that appropriate measures are taken in each circumstance. In this case, the university is looking into the matter.”
The spokesperson declined further comment as the case is before the courts, and said she didn’t know whether Dr. Payne is scheduled to teach this fall. She refused to say whether professors or instructors at the university would be required to notify the school of criminal charges against them.
E-mails and phone calls to Dr. Payne were not immediately returned. His lawyer, Steven Stauffer, said in an e-mail that “Mr. Payne denies any wrongdoing and he is looking forward to challenging the allegations in court. Mr. Payne continues to enjoy the support of his friends and family.”
The alleged victim is also expected to appear in court next month to give evidence. She told The Globe and Mail she has no connection to the U of T and didn’t know Dr. Payne, but that they had a mutual acquaintance. She alleges that after arriving home on Dec. 10, he followed her into her apartment and assaulted her in her room before leaving hastily.
When the alleged victim learned this week that Dr. Payne was still teaching at the university, she was “shocked,” and puzzled that “they didn’t know anything.”
Munib Sajjad, president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union, urged the university to be vigilant about student safety. “I don’t know if they knew but there should be more proactivity on behalf of the university,” he said.
With reports from Zane Schwartz