Quid pro quo sexual harassment as… bribery?

This is weird (and, alas, in political science):

A University of Iowa professor was arrested Friday afternoon for allegedly asking female students to let him fondle their breasts in return for an “A” grade for the class.

Arthur Herbert Miller, 66, of 1700 N. Dubuque Road, faces four counts of bribery, a class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

What could the legal theory be here? (Perhaps something to do with its being a state university?)

… on further investigation …

The relevant statute appears to be Iowa general law ch. 722

I gather he’s being charged with *accepting a bribe* (the class C felony, whereas giving the bribe is a class D felony), contra the news report (big surprise, the media screws it up), the relevant section for which says:

A person who is serving or has been elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise engaged to serve in a public capacity, including a public officer or employee, a referee, juror, or jury panel member, or a witness in a judicial or arbitration hearing or any official inquiry, or a member of a board of arbitration who solicits or knowingly accepts or receives a promise or anything of value or a benefit given pursuant to an understanding or arrangement that the promise or thing of value or benefit will influence the act, vote, opinion, judgment, decision, or exercise of discretion of the person with respect to the person’s services in that capacity commits a class “C” felony. In addition, a person convicted under this section is disqualified from holding public office under the laws of this state.

This is a really interesting legal theory, to say the least… I can’t imagine the legislature meant for this to be what the bribery statute was used for, but it does seem to fit within the text. This might be a model for future prosecutions — in which case, we need to ask ourselves:
- should this kind of sexual harassment be criminalized?
- should private harassers get the same kind of punishment as public harassers?


3 Responses to “Quid pro quo sexual harassment as… bribery?”

  1. Mike Says:

    Great points. I almost blogged this case. Still might. Would just be easier to link to your post, though. ;)

    There is a body of law stating that sexual favors can serve as a bribe. Those cases usually arise in prisons. Pretty broad application, here. But if you’ve been following the “honest services” area of law, you’d see it as part of the logical progression.

    There is even a movement to make the following rape: “Hey, hottie. I’m a photographer for Maxim. We should screw.” If the guy is lying, well, he’s a rapist; since the woman did not give informed consent. (Query: Why then isn’t the woman a prostitute, since clearly she intended to exchange sex for a thing of value?)

    All bad behavior will soon be a crime.

  2. Belle Lettre Says:

    Interesting. I never liked the sexual favors-as-bribe argument in the employment context, but then again I prefer a theory of sex-based harassment that includes the broad spectrum of gender harassment, bullying, and hostile work environment (not merely qpq sexual harassment). See Vicki Schultz’s work for more.

    I’m not really convinced by this legal theory.

  3. Paul Gowder Says:

    Mike, funny you should mention the lying thing — I think I have an upcoming post touching on lying to get sex (as soon as I write it), the Roissy crowd, etc.

    Belle… yeah, I think I agree. If only because it misdescribes the injury at work — it’s not a problem of corruption, it’s a problem of abuse of power over others.

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