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Amid Misconduct Allegations, Professor's Name Stripped From Building

March 10, 2017
 
 

St. Olaf College is removing the name of the late Reidar Dittmann from a campus building after receiving "credible evidence" that he engaged in sexual misconduct over the course of his career there, The Star Tribune reported. Dittmann taught art and Norwegian at St. Olaf for more than 45 years and died in 2010. The allegations surfaced in the last year as part of an effort by the college to reach out to victims of sexual assault. When several allegations were made, the college conducted an investigation and confirmed details of some of the allegations, and so decided it needed to remove the Dittmann name from the building.

David Anderson, president of the college, said, “You reach a point where you have a sufficient degree of evidence that’s credible and verifiable and comes from multiple sources …. Then you’re in a tough spot. Are you going to say, well, because the alleged perpetrator is deceased, we’re not going to take any steps, even though we have this very high degree of certainty of what happened? Or, knowing what we know now, we can’t go forward with that name on the building.”

Family members of Dittmann issued a statement that said in part, “The allegations of sexual misconduct from decades ago deeply trouble his family, many members of whom proudly attended the college and grew up with it as an integral part of our lives. We abhor sexual misconduct without exception, but we are also devastated by the impossibility of due process for the person we knew and loved.” The statement also criticized “the process used to indict our father posthumously; the haste with which the college reached its conclusion; and finally, the public humiliation our family is experiencing as a result of the college’s communications of their actions.”

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