Disgraced Trinity Hall academic wrote erotic fiction about students
Dr Peter Hutchinson quit teaching in 2015 following an investigation
CN: This article contains mention of sexual harassment
A Cambridge academic wrote and published erotic fiction about students, it has emerged today.
The book, written under the pseudonym "Barry Able", was titled First Time: Ooh-la-la!, and is set at the University of Cambridge. The lecturer, Dr Peter Hutchinson, was a fellow at Trinity Hall. He resigned from his teaching post in November 2015 following an internal investigation into nearly a dozen sexual harassment claims.
The book is available on Amazon, but currently has no reviews. At the time of writing, it is ranked 6,656,517 in Amazon's book sales rankings. The book was found during an investigation by Tortoise Media, published this morning.
The BBC have described the book as containing references to bondage, voyeurism and public humiliation, telling the story of a fresher called Peter at a fictional Oxford College. Peter is found guilty of sexual misconduct after engaging with a college sex club called "The Virgins", where women have to sleep with a new man, who may be a fellow, each week in order to maintain membership.
Parallels have been drawn between this premise and drinking society culture, with some suggestion of "echoes of the Penguins", Trinity Hall's Womens's Sporting Society.
Rianna Croxford, a BBC journalist and Trinity Hall alumni who purchased the book, describes how a woman is called a "brazen hussy", whilst other women are "well endowed" in lingerie in the opening of the book. She also stated in a tweet that the book contains "quite detailed fantasies and fetishy references".
The front cover, which features a woman's leg, has been confirmed by Dr Hutchinson to Tortoise Media as belonging to a former Trinity Hall student, who remains unidentified. Yesterday, Hutchinson told Croxford that he had consent from the student and that they are still "good friends". He added that he did not see a problem with this, and he wasn't there when the photo was taken.
Hutchinson told Tortoise Media: "It needs to be emphasised that an author rarely thinks the same way as his main character", and that the "recasting is so broad that it bears no relation to real life".
He commented that Trinity Hall were probably unaware of the book.
One Trinity Hall student told The Tab Cambridge: "Many in Cambridge idealise the college system neglecting to acknowledge its many flaws. The intimacy it engenders is never considered. Close-knit groups of colleagues in small colleges, who in some cases have worked together for decades, can never be expected to come to impartial, incontestable verdicts.
"It seems overwhelmingly obvious that we need a rigorous independent complaints system taken out of the hands of colleges and better support for victims who too often in our society are left traumatised by the wayside. The perfectionist culture at Cambridge accentuates this problem. In numerous colleges people fear coming forward because they are scared to rock the boat".
Another Trinity Hall undergraduate said: "I think [Trinity Hall students] are generally very disappointed and embarrassed by the behaviour and the response of the college.
"I've never come into contact with Peter Hutchinson but his behaviour has been despicable, as well as the comments he made after. It's highly disappointing that most fellows voted for his reinstatement".
Hutchinson gave up his teaching position in Modern and Medieval Languages at Trinity Hall after 10 separate sexual assault allegations in 2015, and finally resigned from the College in November 2019 after a student petition and mounting attention being brought to the case. Trinity Hall had readmitted Hutchinson to some college events immediately prior to his resignation.
The allegations against Hutchinson stretch back to 2005, when a case was brought against him by Eleanor Pyemont (then Hinchcliff), a former Trinity Hall student who was visiting a friend in the city. She alleged in court that Hutchinson groped her, but he said: "I found her attractive and enjoyed being with her, but I had absolutely no sexual designs on her…I did touch/smooth her hair, but that is absolutely all that I did.” In 2006, Dr Hutchinson was cleared of criminal charges for sexual assault.
The full timeline of events leading up to his resignation in 2019 is listed below:
The first sexual misconduct allegations were made against the Emeritus fellow nearly 15 years ago. He was cleared of all charges after admitting to patting his accuser on the bottom, telling police: "I cannot understand how something which seemed so trivial was so important to her."
A decade later, he was accused by 10 female students of making inappropriate sexual comments while teaching. Following these allegations, he agreed to withdraw from any further undergraduate or postgraduate teaching, and was banned from all undergraduate contact.
In November 2017, Hutchinson erroneously received an invite to a lecture with students present, which he attended. In light of this breach of the ban on contact with students, Trinity Hall announced that he had "withdrawn permanently from any further involvement with college affairs" and would not be present in the college at any time in the future.
A formal independent review "of the matter as a whole" was completed the following year. It concluded that the college had "broadly handled the complaints well" and "resolved the matter appropriately."
To provide some "clarity" following the misunderstanding around Hutchinson's invite to the lecture, an agreement was reached between him and the college, which set out which events he could attend.
Then, in October, Hutchinson was "readmitted" to Trinity Hall as an Emeritus Fellow, following a vote by the Governing Body. It was said that the 2017 decision to remove him was "incorrect" and had not been agreed with Hutchinson.
The decision was sharply criticised across Cambridge and beyond. An open letter was signed by over 900 current and former university members, calling for the removal of Hutchinson.
A spokesperson for Trinity Hall College told The Tab Cambridge: "The College was unaware that this book existed prior to today and its publication had nothing to do with the College. Please also note, as you will know, that Peter Hutchinson resigned from his post in November 2019."
The university service Breaking the Silence includes advice on support and reporting for victims of sexual harassment, and this is the direct link for its anonymous reporting .
Cover photo © 2018 Trinity Hall