UT-Austin professor files 2 new libel lawsuits against student, assistant instructor

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Photo Credit: Connor Downs | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This article contains mentions of pedophilia, sexual violence, pederasty, rape and lowering the age of consent. This article has been updated to include comments from a UT spokesperson and a student involved in the lawsuit.

Classics professor Thomas Hubbard filed libel lawsuits in November against two UT students, claiming they falsely accused him of promoting pedophilia, according to the lawsuits.

Hubbard’s lawsuits claim that Zoé Thomas, a graduate student and assistant instructor, and Hollie Green, a government senior, violated the United States civil libel statute. He is seeking monetary damages, according to the lawsuits. Hubbard’s attorney Joe Sibley said Green and Thomas falsely accused Hubbard of “endorse(ing) sexual violence that endanger the students at UT.” 

Hubbard filed a separate lawsuit in July against rhetoric and writing junior Sarah Blakemore and 10 others for creating and distributing a flyer accusing Hubbard of promoting pedophilia. The July lawsuit said Blakemore and others involved with the creation of the flyer damaged Hubbard’s career and reputation, according to previous reporting by The Daily Texan.

“There is no evidence that Dr. Hubbard advocates for rape, pedophilia, or pederasty,” Sibley  said in an email. “Dr. Hubbard has proposed nothing more than some modest reforms to the age of consent laws to lower the age of consent for males (consistent with other developed nations, such as in Europe) and maintain the age of consent for females based on research that shows a greater need for protection for females.”

Sibley said Hubbard does not study pedophilia, but Greek pederasty, which focuses on adolescent boys as opposed to prepubescent children. 

According to the lawsuit, Green created and circulated a Google Form entitled “Action Against Professor Thomas Hubbard,” which said Hubbard has been published by the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Hubbard’s lawsuit said he is not associated with the organization. One of Hubbard’s books, “Greek Love Reconsidered,” was published by Wallace Hamilton Press, a publishing house that is operated by NAMBLA, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Hubbard did not know about this at the time of the book’s publication, Sibley said in the Statesman article. 

“(Hubbard) claims that it was libelous to say that he is associated with NAMBLA, but at the time that I wrote that, it was listed on his Wikipedia page that he was associated with NAMBLA,” Green said. “There are multiple websites online that are run by … self-identified pedophiles, and they claim that Wallace Hamilton Press is basically just a shell for NAMBLA. I wasn’t saying things that I didn’t have backup for.”

The form allowed people to sign up for information on “actions being organized against Professor Hubbard.” 

“Reading through (the lawsuit), I was really shocked at the claims he was making,” Green said. “It feels like, to me, a professor suing undergraduate students who took issue with his course material and the materials he has written is an academic dispute. Professors being able to sue students over academic disputes like this … makes me afraid to speak up in my classes.”

Green said she received an email Feb. 17 from Hubbard’s lawyers that said if Green “didn’t work out a negotiation with them for taking down and revamping (Green’s) statements, (Green) would be sued.” Green said she received the lawsuit via email on Nov. 18 but hasn’t been served in person.

“I understand that the University is put in a difficult legal situation in all of this, but I’m really disappointed in how they’ve responded,” Green said. “They haven’t really reached out or offered any support whatsoever. I think that UT allowing him to file lawsuits against undergraduate students sets an awful precedent.”

According to the lawsuit, Thomas tweeted false claims related to the content in Hubbard’s class.

The form allowed people to sign up for information on “actions being organized against Professor Hubbard.” Green did not respond to a request for comment.

“Welcome to the field of Classics, where it’s controversial to say that someone who promotes pedophilic relationships, asked undergrads to talk about their rapes for a class assignment, and claims women are too biased to think critically about rape law should be afraid,” Thomas said in a tweet, according to the lawsuit. 

Thomas declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, the claims in this tweet are false. Thomas declined to comment. 

Hubbard’s 2010 article, “Sexual Consent and the Adolescent Male, or What Can We Learn from the Greeks?” published in the Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies, was quoted in the flyers the defendants of the July lawsuit distributed, according to previous reporting by The Daily Texan.

“Rigorous social science and historical comparanda suggest that we should consider a different ‘age of consent’ for boys and girls,” Hubbard said in the article. 

UT spokesperson J.B. Bird said professors have free speech, but cannot incorporate controversial subject matter that has no relation to their subject into their teaching.

“It remains unusual for faculty members to sue students and colleagues who have criticized them,” Bird said. “We support robust discussion and debate about academic research and believe that should happen on campus and not in the federal courts.”

According to the lawsuits, the defendants’ statements caused “significant damage” to Hubbard. After the statements were published, Hubbard’s house was vandalized in December 2019 by “militants associated with an explicitly revolutionary organization (the Popular Women’s Movement),” who spray painted “CHILD RAPIST” on his house, according to the lawsuits. 

“Due to these events, Dr. Hubbard was forced to leave Austin, Texas and relocate to California,” according to the lawsuits. “He has suffered significant damages to his reputation, mental anguish, and emotional distress. He is unable to resume teaching in anything but an online format."