Dwight Roth

Mennonite college professor reportedly admitted sex with student but denied abuse of power

In 2022, Dwight Roth (b. 1945) reportedly acknowledged that he had in 1977 had sexual contact with one of his students when he was a professor at Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas. Roth insisted it was consensual and that he had been in love with the student.

In 2021, a Hesston College alum reported to the college that she had been groomed and then taken advantage of sexually by Roth, her professor, beginning on her graduation day in 1977. The report was forwarded to the college’s human relations (HR) department, and the HR director asked another former professor and friend of Roth’s speak to him about it.

According to the woman and documentation reviewed by MAP, Roth confirmed to his friend the sexual contact with his student, but insisted it was consensual and that he had been in love with her. Roth and his wife then accused the woman in an email of “elder abuse” for sharing her account of what had happened, and they questioned her mental health. The college followed up with a letter to Roth outlining the allegations, and he reportedly responded in writing, claiming the sexual contact was consensual and denying any power dynamics at play.

In the process of reporting her experience to the college, the woman learned that the college had recently received another report about Roth. A professor with knowledge of the situation reportedly told the woman in a phone call of the recent “similar disclosure,” but the HR director later told the woman that it was “not a similar experience.” When the woman asked for her contact information to be shared with the other person who came forward, the HR director refused, saying that the other person had previously said they didn’t want to take further action.

The college denied all of the woman’s requests — to be put in contact with the other reported victim, to have the college publicize that they had received a credible allegation of abuse by Roth, and to be allowed to share her story with faculty and staff. The college offered instead to privately ban Roth from campus and to generally publicize various means by which people were able to report any past violations.

In 2015, Hesston College had recognized Dwight Roth among a group of former faculty given honorary emeritus status on Homecoming weekend, and as of 2024 the college continued to feature him in their list of emeritus faculty.

When MAP reached out to Roth for comment, his wife responded to blame “the women making the accusations” for their “adult choices,” saying they were “looking for attention.”

The former student wrote to the college in 2022, explaining how her professor had given her special attention:

[It] began with a foundation of trust and then involved some degree of grooming that made me feel chosen, special, wanted by someone I looked up to, at a time when I was struggling and vulnerable. The central point is really that I was unable to give full consent given this relational power dynamic. Until he made the first move, I had no idea that he was seeing me through sexual eyes, or what he had been doing with the purpose of getting me into bed with him. … I would describe the offense as abusing his position and his power to gain access to my body and my self, for his own sexual and ego gratification.

Church-related positions

  • Professor, Hesston College, Hesston, Kansas, 1973–2010

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