Following a Boston Globe expose on sexual abuse by former Wellesley College running coach John Babington, the school has issued a statement regarding its poor handling of the situation in the 1990s.
Olympian Lynn Jennings, an abuse victim at the coach’s hands while running for a club team, has pushed to reveal Babington’s acknowledged behavior, including abuse of a Wellesley College runner in the 1990s.
To: The Wellesley College Community
From: President Paula A. Johnson
Re: Boston Globe story on sexual abuse perpetrated by former Wellesley coach John Babington
Date: February 17, 2023
Today, the Boston Globe published an article that detailed sexual abuse by John Babington, a former Wellesley athletics coach. One of the victims who came forward was a former Wellesley student who experienced abuse by Babington at the College in the late 1990s. The other brave women interviewed in the article suffered abuse by Babington outside his coaching at Wellesley.
I am deeply sorry for the abuse and pain our alumna suffered and continues to suffer due to Babington’s misconduct, and I regret that he was allowed to continue coaching at the College until 2013. There is no question that Wellesley would handle such conduct very differently today. As our current policies make clear, we do not tolerate sexual harassment, which includes gender harassment and all forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault and sexual coercion. Wellesley seeks at all times to create a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff and to prevent sexual harassment from occurring on our campus.
Other than the sexual abuse of our student in the late 1990s, we are not aware of any allegations of sexual misconduct by Babington at Wellesley during the 26 years he coached at the College. In light of the Boston Globe story, however, we ask anyone with information about sexual misconduct by John Babington while he was at Wellesley to immediately alert Justin Bell, our director of nondiscrimination initiatives/Title IX coordinator. We are committed to ensuring that any impacted former students feel safe in reporting sensitive and painful information, and to supporting any former student Babington targeted.
As the president of Wellesley, and as someone who throughout my professional life has been dedicated to creating environments that are free of sexual harassment, I was personally saddened and angered by the stories of the women John Babington harmed. I co-chaired the first evidence-based report of sexual harassment of women in academic STEM produced by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, resulting in a national collaborative to share best practices to prevent sexual harassment, of which Wellesley is a founding member. Wellesley has also been a leader in advocating for legislation that protects all people from sexual harassment.
The fact that this happened at Wellesley, a college dedicated to the education and advancement of women, speaks to the ubiquity of this problem. I want to express my gratitude to our alumna and to Lynn Jennings, Darlene Pearson, and Melody Fairchild for sharing their stories—and to the U.S. Center for SafeSport and the Boston Globe for their important investigative and journalistic work. And to our community, I want to reiterate my resolve and commitment to work to prevent sexual harassment and misconduct here at Wellesley, now and in the future.
Hillary Egan says
Wake up and smell the coffee Wellesley. The fact that the Wellesley admin held confidential the reason for JB’s LOA makes the college complicit and is an unconscionable insult to his professional and student associates.
Wellesley College is absolutely complicit. It kept John Babington on staff for 26 years knowing that he had sexually exploited a student. The students’s trauma was so painful that she transferred to another college.. Most likely many more students were affected by coach Babington’s behavior and by the response of Wellesley College to keeping him employed until 2013 when he retired with a pension from Wellesley College. Horrible always but more so at a Women’s College.
Hector Vargas says
The Wellesley admin was complicit, in not firing him and making public the reason.
Just me says
Considering more than half the softball team at Wellesley formally complained to the Athletic Director about ongoing harrassment of all forms by the longtime softball coach last summer and it was completely blown off as she remains to this day shows just how disingenuous Paula Johnson is. There is a list of past and current players that have suffered at the hands of the coach but she is protected by the school, much like the former track coach obviously was. Boston Globe stories apparently is the only thing that moves the needle.