Ithaca College Faculty Backs Female President Convicted of Sexual Assault in 2001

Shirley Collado, the President of Ithaca College
Ithaca College/Adam Baker

Ithaca College faculty members are defending college President Shirley Collado after it was revealed that she was convicted of sexual assault in 2001.

Ithaca College President Shirley Collado was convicted of sexual assault in 2001. To make matters worse, Ithaca College knew of her conviction when they hired her. So what happened?

In 2000, Collado was an employee at the Center at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. During her tenure at the Center, Collado was assigned a patient who was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. The 30-year-old patient, who had previously been sexually abused by a doctor, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and dissociative identity disorder.

The patient alleges that she and Collado engaged in a several-month-long sexual relationship. During several of their sexual encounters, many of which took place during or immediately following therapy sessions, the patient alleges that Collado would claim that their sexual touching would be “therapeutic.”

The patient alleges that she participated in a three-way sexual encounter with Collado and a male in September of 2000. The patient then alleged that Collado told her that the three-way experience “would be psychologically helpful for her.” Collado denies that such an encounter ever took place.

Collado freely admitted that she allowed this patient to move into her home at some point after her “treatment” began. Collado eventually expressed regret over this decision. “I learned, and it came to me, that that was probably not a good idea, that I needed to really focus on myself and that I was not in the position to help someone who I knew had a pretty troubled past,” she said.

Collado has consistently denied the accusations, claiming that she didn’t have the legal resources at the time of her trial to defend herself. “I didn’t have the legal resources; I didn’t have the financial resources to, and I didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to really take this on the way I would have preferred,” Collado told the Ithacan, the student newspaper of Ithaca College. “So I took a different route. And like many people in this country, young people in this country, people of color, people who don’t have networks, that was me. This happens all the time, where you make this really difficult choice, even if it goes completely against the truth of who you are.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Marcus-Kurn, the case’s prosecutor, argued that the patient was an “extremely truthful person.”

“They both find her to be an extremely truthful person, and although she may have flashbacks of prior abuse or may relive traumatic experiences, her therapists have stated that she does not fabricate or hallucinate things that simply did not happen,” Marcus-Kurn wrote. “In other words, she has not experienced psychotic episodes and has never been diagnosed as psychotic.”

One of Collado’s co-workers at the Center, who chose to remain anonymous, told the Ithacan that they believe that Collado had an intimate sexual relationship with the patient. “She had no reason to lie about them,” the co-worker said in a comment. “She had no reason to lie.”

Despite the recent #MeToo movement, Collado has received widespread support from the faculty of Ithaca College. Over 200 faculty members signed a statement that declared that the recent disclosure of her conviction has not shaken their collective admiration for Collado.

While maintaining her innocence, President Collado freely admits that it was an error of judgment to allow a former psychiatric patient to move into her home. However, this was an error she describes as having been born out of compassion at a moment when she had recently endured a terrible loss—the suicide of her husband. Again, her youth and lack of resources should be taken into account when reflecting on this past mistake, as well as the fact that there is nothing in her life since then that would indicate a pattern. Indeed, in just five and a half short months, President Collado has unified our campus in a manner that contrasts strikingly with the discord, conflict, and suspicion that prevailed at Ithaca College for some time before her arrival. She has rapidly gained our affection, our admiration and our trust, and these recent disclosures have not altered that.

The Ithacan posted an update on January 31, claiming that the patient who alleged abuse at the hands of Collado in 2001 stands by her version of the story.

The patient who alleged she and Shirley M. Collado — who was her therapist in 2000 and is now the president of Ithaca College — entered into a sexual relationship in 2000 has come forward to affirm that she stands by the account of the case she gave the prosecution in 2001. The patient also said she did not send the anonymous packages that were circulating with information about the case and does not know who did.

 

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