The popular perception that they do remains, despite regular debunking. (See here for one example of such debunking.) But now the philosophical world has before it a case in which a university actually made a ruling that:
Ludlow drank with the underage student in Chicago in February 2012, and “engaged in unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances” by rubbing her back and kissing her.
Northwestern found that the student had been drunk and woke up the next morning in Ludlow’s bed with the professor’s arms wrapped around her.
That’s pretty serious stuff– the kissing was, according to the finding, unwelcome. And, according to the finding, she then woke up in his bed with his arms around her. This isn’t an inappropriate comment, or possibly-accidental touch. Nor is it, according to the finding, mutually-entered-into but worrying due to the power dynamics. Unwelcome kissing is serious, and waking up in bed with someone after unwelcome kissing is also serious. (It’s also not a case where the student alleged unwelcome kissing and the university did not make a finding of unwelcome kissing. The university takes this to have happened.)
So what did the university do after it decided this rather serious behaviour had occurred?
Besides freezing his pay for one year and revoking [an] endowed position, court records show the university told Ludlow to avoid one-on-one social contact with undergraduates, directed him not to have romantic relationships with “any Northwestern student in the future,” told him not to give alcohol to underage students and required him to complete an individualized “sensitivity/harassment-prevention training” program.
It’s really pretty hard to imagine a milder punishment.
This is, of course, just one example to count against the myth of overreacting to sexual harassment claims. But it’s a vivid one.