Secular society tolerates most forms of consensual sex between competent adults. But it draws the line on sexual interactions between a boss and employee or teacher and student. Yet I have a number of commenters trying to mitigate the guilt of Elimelech Meisels by claiming the students have no complaint since they consented. I would reject that argument even if Meisels was not an extremely manipulative man. I would reject that argument even if Meisels didn’t have the responsibilities and religious aura of a rabbi and a principal of a seminary. I reject that argument even for those indifferent to the halachic violations he committed.
According to the the Faculty Handbook of the Harvard University School of Public Health (HSPH) “inappropriate relationships” are strictly forbidden. The Handbook states:
Amorous relationships that might be appropriate in other circumstances have inherent dangers when they occur between any HSPH faculty or non-faculty academic appointee and any person over whom he/she has a professional responsibility, e.g. as a teacher, advisor, or supervisor. Such relationships are fundamentally asymmetric, unprofessional, and an abuse of authority.
HSPH faculty and non-faculty academic appointees should be aware that any romantic involvement with students, junior colleagues, or staff members over whom they have supervisory or instructional responsibility makes them liable to complaint and formal action under the school’s grievance procedures. Even when both parties have initially consented to such a relationship, it is the senior individual, who by virtue of his/her special responsibility may be held accountable for the unprofessional relationship or abuse of authority. If an amorous relationship develops between a senior and junior member of the HSPH community, the reporting relationship should be dissolved promptly by the more senior person.