CCSU administration hosts open forum on campus culture, sexual misconduct allegations

NEW BRITAIN --  Inside a packed room of Memorial Hall of the CCSU campus, school president Dr. Zulma Toro addressed recent accusations of longtime sexual misconduct by theater professor Joshua Perlstein.

Perlstein was placed on paid administrative leave last week after an article in ‘The Recorder,’ CCSU’s student newspaper, revealed multiple women had come forward with accusations against Perlstein over the last two decades.

“There are things I cannot change, certain things from the past,” said Dr. Toro. “But I do have the authority and the responsibility to make significant changes from this point on.”

Students and staff – both former and current – addressed the administration, voicing concerns over campus culture and the handling of misconduct allegations. CCSU alumna Anna Kelly filed a complaint against Perlstein when she was a student 14 years ago.

“He, on a pretense of a friendly conversation, lured me across the street to the park and proceeded to tell me he was in love with me and that I was his destiny,” said Kelly, who described Perlstein as a dangerous predator. “He kissed me. He tried to hold my hand, and he grabbed my butt as we walked back to campus.”

CCSU junior Erin Sagnelli said that it is well-known among students to stay away from Perlstein. “You do not go anywhere near him, and you do not let him come within three feet of you,” said Sagnelli during the meeting.

CCSU senior Talia Maselli spoke before the administration in tears, saying no one has listened to her cries for help. Maselli said the school has failed to protect her from a man who she said raped her and then transferred into CCSU. She claims communication with Toro has gone nowhere.

“This is verbatim the email: ‘There is nothing we can do to help in this case, I’m sorry for any difficulties this may cause you,’” said Maselli, referring to an email she said she received from Toro.

In her remarks at the meeting, Toro said she is deeply concerned and troubled by the recent allegations. Toro said she will be establishing a task force, and that the school’s sexual misconduct policies will be reviewed in May.

She announced the launch of a web page called ‘Campus Culture Concerns,’ which can be used as a tool to speed up communication from faculty and students to the administration.

Toro said an impartial third-party investigation by the law firm Shipman & Goodwin began last Thursday.

Perlstein declined to comment to The Recorder when asked about the specific allegations. He emailed a statement to FOX61 that said:

I have just read the article for the first time. The allegations that were mentioned have been investigated and resolved by the University. If they are going to conduct another investigation I will of course fully cooperate.