Boroughs Fails to Meet Self-imposed Deadlines, A Complete Timeline of Sexual Misconduct and Response

Allyson Noenickx


On April 30, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs S.J., president updated the campus community on the ongoing Phil Catanzano Review of Culture, Structure and Processes and the Sexual Misconduct Policy Review in an email. This was the second update from Boroughs within a week, but prior to that there had been no other updates as promised in a March 1 email to the campus community, sent two months ago today.

Despite eight emails over the past seven months detailing the work of various committees, ongoing investigations, and updates concerning sexual misconduct on campus, Boroughs has failed to meet several of the deadlines that he outlines for himself in these correspondence.

Following the conclusion of the student-led February sit-in, Boroughs offered his “apology” to the student body 27 minutes later than promised, missing the original 3:30 PM deadline that he had verbally agreed to the day before.

In his November update on the Catanzano report, Boroughs announced that “The Title IX office will expand its training program to include training to each academic department by March 31, 2019.”

However, in his April 2 address to the faculty assembly, two days after such training was to have been completed, Boroughs announced that these faculty training initiatives would only just be getting underway. “We will be implementing mandatory grooming prevention training for all faculty and staff and the College is currently working with the firm Praesidium to facilitate that,” said Boroughs.

Boroughs has also been slow to announce an official deadline for the Catanzano Review of Culture, Structure and Processes. On March 1 Boroughs wrote, “I anticipate that Mr. Catanzano’s review will be complete by the end of this semester.” However, in his most recent email on Tuesday, Boroughs provided an update for this timeline, writing that “I have asked Mr. Catanzano to complete his review by May 31.” The new May 31 deadline will come over two weeks after the last day of finals and a week after the Class of 2019 Commencement.

On April 23, the Student Government Association (SGA), requested that Boroughs provide the long-awaited, detailed list of progress made on each February sit-in demand and concrete explanations for why some sit-in demands were not met, including any legal reasons. SGA originally requested a response by April 28, but ultimately agreed to a two-day extension. In his April 30 email, Boroughs provided several updates, but again failed to provide concrete legal reasoning for why some sit-in demands were rejected.

Additionally, the Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group commissioned by Fr. Boroughs was asked to submit their report to the Executive team by April 15. The ultimate date on this report is April 18, three days after the deadline.

Below is a composite timeline of events related to sexual misconduct and the College’s response. The first event allegedly occurs in 1994, but the bulk of events take place between 2015 and 2019. The following timeline was sourced with publicly available information. It was obtained, but not made, by the Spire team. The accuracy of each listed event has been verified via public communications from Fr. Boroughs, information on the Campus Climate Website, and other linked sources. The timeline will be updated continuously with future developments.

A Timeline of Sexual Misconduct Allegations and Administrative Response at Holy Cross

As related to James David Christie, former Distinguished-Artist-in-Residence and Christopher Dustin, Professor of Philosophy, former Dean of Faculty

. . .

Sourced with publicly available information

Key Figures

Fr. Philip Boroughs, President of Holy Cross

Elizabeth Canning, founding and former director, Holy Cross Title IX

Philip Catanzano, Holland & Knight LLP general counsel

James David Christie, former Distinguished-Artist-in-Residence

Christopher Dustin, Philosophy professor, former Dean of Faculty

Margaret Freije, Dean of the College and Provost

Tracy Kennedy, Director of Title IX Initiatives, departing summer 2019


Timeline Key:

Stories related to James David Christie are highlighted blue

Stories related to Christopher Dustin are highlighted red

Stories related to administrative response and other topics are highlighted grey


Earliest publicly alleged abuse by James David Christie – Five former Organ Scholars at Holy Cross, spanning decades of study at the college, will allege in 2018 a pattern of systematic sexual abuse by Christie, college organist and Distinguished-Artist-in-Residence, including unwanted physical contact, sexually inappropriate interactions in lessons and elsewhere, and, in two cases, sexually abusive relationships


Late 2015

Christopher Dustin allegedly begins harassment of student – A former student will allege publicly in 2019 that Dustin, a Philosophy professor, invited her to take a class she was not eligible for and handpicked her for a work-study position despite her lack of qualifications; she further alleges pressure to accept him as a mentor, romantic advances, sexually-charged comments, intimidating behavior, and an abuse of power regarding her thesis grade

December 2015

Title IX Office created, Elizabeth Canning to lead – Canning announced as Director of the office


February 28, 2017

Provost Freije announces Dustin to be Dean of Faculty – Provost Freije sends an email to faculty with news of the impending promotion

April 2017

Student files Title IX complaint against Dustin – The aforementioned Holy Cross student files a complaint against Dustin with Title IX.

May 23, 2017

Title IX Director Canning to depart, Kennedy to assume role in June Title IX Investigator Tracy Kennedy to be Interim Director following Canning’s impending departure

June 2017

Informal resolution offered to Dustin complainant – The Title IX complainant against Dustin reports that “a member of the Title IX Office asked her if she had any interest in pursuing an informal resolution,” which she declines.

According to Holy Cross’s Title IX policies and procedures (encompassing 2017 to present day), a party may request an informal resolution in lieu of an investigation, which the Title IX Coordinator will assess “against the severity of the alleged violation and the potential risks to campus community members.” The Title IX Coordinator will inform the parties involved “if the Title IX Coordinator determines that informal resolution is appropriate.”

Between JulySeptember 2017, Holy Cross’s online Title IX procedures are amended to include that informal resolution requests must be made in writing, and that such processes are conducted at the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator.



Title IX investigation of Dustin complaint continues

August 13, 2018

James David Christie resigns from Holy Cross – Holy Cross receives a letter of resignation from the Distinguished-Artist-in-Residence

August 15, 2018

Organ Scholars deliver letter to Boroughs alleging abuse by Christie, requesting dialogue

Five former Holy Cross Organ Scholars warn of the “imminent danger” of Christie, detail a decades-long history of his alleged sexual abuse of students, and request a dialogue with Boroughs and the college

Christie leaves or is removed from multiple teaching and performing roles, including Holy Cross, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, amid numerous allegations

August 23, 2018

Christie accusers come forward publicly

August 24, 2018

Boroughs responds to Christie allegations in letter to campus community – “…I also vow that the College will be aggressive and thorough in pursuing a full review of the issues and behaviors articulated in the Globe article.  You have my commitment to address this situation head on. In addition to completing our current review into these specific allegations, we will immediately undertake a thorough review of culture, structure and/or procedures at the College to prevent misconduct. If issues are found, we will address them. Quickly.”          

“I also want to assure you that the College took immediate steps as soon as these alumni came forward with allegations against Mr. Christie. We did not, however, know all the details contained in today’s story. The College placed Mr. Christie on administrative leave the same day I received the letter, and barred him from campus and from interacting with College community members. Mr. Christie submitted a letter of resignation last week and will not be returning to the College. I am committed to completing the review of his conduct regardless of his resignation.”

Per section 9H of the college’s Title IX policy, the college may supersede Title IX procedures to address sexual misconduct claims administratively, depending on several factors.


Dustin found responsible in Title IX investigation – Worcester Magazine reports an investigation lasting 20 months, resulting in Dustin’s removal as Dean of Faculty. Worcester Magazine also reports a determination of restrictive sanctions: “Dustin’s interaction with female students had been limited and he was restricted from conducting private, one-on-one meetings or unsupervised communications with female students or junior employees, including by e-mail.”

In the fall 2018 semester, Dustin teaches Montserrat, a first-year student course. The college does not inform the community in 2018 of the investigation, the finding of responsibility, or the sanctions against Dustin.

September 18, 2018

Boroughs outlines response to Christie – An email from Boroughs to the campus community states that “the College’s Title IX office immediately began its investigation process” of Christie, and that Holland & Knight senior counsel Catanzano will conduct a separate review of “culture, structure and procedures at the College to prevent future misconduct.” Boroughs pledges ongoing updates on the college’s response.

September 21, 2018

Organ Scholars reiterate request for dialogue with college – The Spire reports that the group went public “to ensure that the full context of Mr. Christie’s resignation would be clear.”

September 24, 2018

Freije announces Dustin no longer Dean of Faculty – Freije informs the faculty of the change without further explanation.

November 5, 2018

@sexualassaultonthehill goes live – The anonymous, student-run Instagram account publishes the first of more than one hundred posts recounting stories of sexual abuse and assault at Holy Cross

November 13, 2018

Classes to be canceled for school-wide ENGAGE summit – The summit comes after “several disturbing incidents on campus”

November 14, 2018

Catanzano reports on climate survey progress – Boroughs updates the community on the ongoing cultural review by Catanzano. It cites “concerns about lack of institutional oversight or even departmental oversight of certain College employees” and “a variety of concerns” about the Title IX office and process.

The update announces an upcoming campus climate survey, a Title IX report on academic year 2017-18 to be published in early 2019, and an expansion of Title IX trainings to all academic departments, specifically concerning grooming behaviors, to be completed by March 31, 2019. The update cites the September hiring of Cheryl Rogers to the Title IX department and reports that the college is in the process of hiring a “full-time dedicated Title IX and Non-Discrimination Investigator.”

November 16, 2018

Over a thousand attend ENGAGE summit – @sexualassaultonthehill criticizes the event as a “catch-all response” in the face of multiple issues of sexual and bigoted violence; “more than 1,000 students, staff and faculty” are reported in attendance, including a packed auditorium for a session on the anonymous Instagram account

November 30, 2018

Organ Scholars express dissatisfaction with school’s response – A statement expresses frustration with process since coming forward, continued desire to meet with Fr. Boroughs, need for a transparent investigative process

December 4, 2018

Students demand college response in letter – A group of survivors, organized by @sexualassaultonthehill, brings a letter signed by  hundreds of students and alumni to Fr. Boroughs’s office demanding students’ “legal right to safety”

December 17, 2018

Boroughs pledges Title IX reform – Boroughs writes to the campus community that he is “directing members of the Executive Team to take responsibility for coordinating” improvements to Title IX policies and processes



Title IX investigations of Christie complaints continue

January 24, 2019

Dustin complainant comes forward, Organ Scholars rebuke school – The aforementioned Title IX complainant against Dustin comes forward with allegations of sexual harassment and grooming spanning years, detailing a 20-month investigation by the college, a finding of responsibility by Dustin, and a determination of sanctions.

In a statement, the Organ Scholars condemn the college’s offer of three therapy sessions to one of their group, given following their requests for therapy assistance, as “an insult to that person and all survivors.”

January 30, 2019

College puts Dustin on leave, new investigation announced – Boroughs informs the community that the college has placed Dustin on leave as a result of allegations from a previous school year, distinct from the allegations made in Worcester Magazine.

According to section 9H of Holy Cross’s Title IX policy:The College retains the right to determine, in its sole discretion, if it will address a report of conduct under the Sexual Misconduct Policy administratively and outside of the process described herein when the safety of the College community is at risk, if the material facts are undisputed, if there are extenuating circumstances involving either of the Parties, or if the Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with appropriate administrators, determines it is in the best interest of the College and/or the community to do so.  

Boroughs writes that faculty misconduct “betrays our core mission,” and that an external investigator will lead a new investigation. He adds: Over the course of this academic year, community members have raised important questions about how investigations are undertaken, how sanctions are determined and who determines them, how appeals work, and how victims are supported… We have much work to do.

January 31, 2019

Worcester Magazine asks: “Is Title IX working?” – The story includes interviews of and comments from the Organ Scholars, @sexualassaultonthehill, Tracy Kennedy, and other Title IX officers in Worcester

February 4, 2019

Students launch indefinite sit-in – Hundreds of Holy Cross students demand Dustin’s removal, an acknowledgement of the college’s failure to inform the campus of the allegations against him, “an external audit by an impartial third party” of Title IX and college policies surrounding sexual harassment and faculty misconduct, a preliminary report from independent counsel Catanzano by March 1, and a pledge to ultimately release that report publicly F

February 5, 2019

“The Temptation of Fr. Boroughs” uploaded – Student activists satirize the President and the administration’s response to the sit-in

February 6, 2019

Sit-in ends – Student leaders write that the college has pledged to begin an independent audit of Title IX by the end of the month. Students allude to Fr. Boroughs’s December 17th email, saying this audit was “announced in December,” though it has yet to begin. The students write that the college has asked them to prepare “a comprehensive list of specific issues we have with the current Title IX.” The college agrees to release Catanzano’s final report, although the students report that the college does not know “what that looks like yet.”

February 6, 2019

Boroughs acknowledges lack of notification of Dustin investigation, pledges reform – Boroughs emails students expressing regret “that any student would feel that they were put into a position in which their safety was compromised.” Boroughs acknowledges students’ “disappointment” and “shock” at Dustin’s continuing to teach “without notice to the community” during the 20-month investigation cited in Worcester Magazine. Boroughs writes that “we believed we were acting with safety in mind.” Boroughs pledges a focus on issues of community disclosures as part of a broader Title IX review.

February 10, 2019

Freije announces internal reviews of Dustin case, Title IX – Freije informs the faculty of the formation of an ad hoc committee on faculty sexual misconduct, which will review the Dustin case and Title IX procedures overall. Freije acknowledges questions concerning “decisions regarding interim measures and final sanctions,” saying that existing policies are “being tested.”

February 12, 2019

Boroughs updates the community – Boroughs reviews the many ongoing processes in place concerning sexual conduct and policy. Boroughs writes that faculty and staff will receive training in identifying grooming behaviors, as originally announced as part of Catanzano’s report in November. This training will not take place by the previously set deadline of March 1, 2019. Boroughs pledges a “new website” to address questions raised by sit-in leaders.

February 22, 2019

Lawrence Cahoone questions college and community’s recent response to Dustin allegations – The Philosophy professor interrogates Dustin’s leave and the recent activism on campus concerning the allegations

February 24, 2019

The Boston Globe surveys activism on campus

February 28, 2019

Oberlin: Christie likely “grossly abused” position; Holy Cross: investigation ongoing – Oberlin’s investigation and cultural climate review encompasses over forty interviews and over forty online surveys, coming to the conclusion that “Mr. Christie in all likelihood grossly abused his position of trust,” and articulating students’ fear of retaliation and “sense that nothing could be done.” An email from Oberlin’s Title IX office outlines a plan for limited public release of the findings and for several further action steps. Contacted by the Telegram and Gazette, Holy Cross declines to provide a timeline for its own investigations of allegations against Christie, reiterating the need for a “thorough investigation.”

March 1, 2019

Boroughs updates the community – Boroughs describes the Campus Climate website, which pledges regular updates to its pages. Boroughs reports several areas of concern brought to him by Catanzano in the course of the latter’s ongoing work, and writes that “we must begin a conversation about why people are hesitant or reticent to report to the Title IX office.” Boroughs anticipates Catanzano’s report to be completed by the end of the semester but does not comment on public release of the findings.

Boroughs writes that Daryl Lapp of firm Locke Lord will facilitate a review of the sexual misconduct policy, to be undertaken by a President-appointed “core committee.” The committee includes administrators, students, faculty, members of the ad hoc committee announced on February 10th, Special Assistant to the President Jane Corr, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Cheryl Rogers.

Boroughs announces a “Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group,” including faculty, staff, administrators, Jane Corr, and Tracy Kennedy. Their online mandate anticipates creating an internal report by April 15th, though the report is ultimately released on April 19th. The climate website is updated to reflect the delay.

Addressing faculty and staff concerns about safe reporting, Boroughs cites a “very clear whistleblower policy.” The policy, written in 2010, allows for the reporting of financial misconduct or conflict of interest policy violations, with no other options provided. Reports are sent to Elizabeth Small, general counsel of the college, or to the chair of the college’s audit committee, depending on the nature of the report.

March 31, 2019

Organ Scholar: Holy Cross needs independent investigation – Jake Street cites a “culture of fear” at the school, arguing that transparency is necessary for the community to “regain trust in the process,” and alleges that “multiple people raised concerns about Dustin to college leadership in the months after his promotion to dean of faculty was announced in 2017”

April 3, 2019

Boroughs tells faculty to bring wrongdoing to the Board – In a faculty assembly, Boroughs tells the faculty that “if you believe that I have done something wrong, then you may bring that to the Board to whom I report.” Boroughs cites a whistleblower policy for reporting violations of financial misconduct or conflicts of interest. The Spire reports that outside counsels Catanzano and Lapp, responsible for reviewing climate and procedures, report directly to Boroughs.

April 3, 2019

Faculty assembly votes to request independent investigator – The faculty votes by a large margin to ask the Board of Trustees to engage an independent investigator, minutes after Boroughs publicly rejects the ad hoc committee’s request for the same

April 5, 2019

Faculty ad hoc committee calls for independent investigation – The committee writes that “an independent investigation is the best way for us to complete our mandate and for trust to be restored within the community.” The letter states that the committee met with Elizabeth Small, general counsel at the college, as well as outside counsel Daryl Lapp, but was not permitted to meet with outside counsel Catanzano, and that they did not find Small and Lapp’s proposed framework to be “productive.”

April 9, 2019

Mass Live reports criminal harassment of @sexualassaultonthehill

April 12, 2019

Holy Cross members of Alpha Sigma Nu call for independent investigation

April 19, 2019

Sexual Respect and Planning Group issues report – The Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group issues a report with several detailed suggestions for change, with sections concerning “education and prevention,” “survivor support,” and “improving the campus climate.” The report calls for immediate additional support for survivors on campus, a “significantly shorter version of Title IX policies in clear, accessible language,” and a new task force to assist with implementation, among other suggestions.

April 23, 2019

Boroughs updates the community – Boroughs informs the campus that the climate survey is complete and that results will be presented online and in review sessions in May. He writes that Catanzano will soon provide a third report on “culture, policies and structures.” Boroughs writes that the Sexual Misconduct Policy Review committee, announced March 1, has begun its work as of one week ago, and will have an update for the community in the future. Boroughs announces the April 19th report of the Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group.

April 27, 2019

Tracy Kennedy to leave Title IX office – An email to faculty states that Tracy is leaving the office at the end of the year to pursue new opportunities

April 30, 2019

First Faculty Assembly held since vote for independent investigator – The AGC ad hoc committee awaits a response from the board on their request for an independent investigator. Members of the committee did meet with the board for about 90 minutes on April 23.

The faculty assembly voted to request update on the Catanzano report from Boroughs by the next faculty assembly on May 7. They also voted to keep the topic of faculty sexual misconduct on the agenda until the completion of an independent investigation.

April 30, 2019

Boroughs updates campus community on Catanzano report – Boroughs announces that he has asked Catanzano to complete his report by May 31 and provides updates on the report and recommendations thus far. Boroughs also releases 2017-2018 Title IX initiatives report.

Boroughs announces May 7th community-wide gathering addressing in which he will “outline how we move forward as a community.”

The Spire will continue to update this timeline as events unfold. Last Updated: 5/1/2019.

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