Sexual Violence Investigative Officer: Deborah Harley

Posted December 1, 2015

Deborah A. Harley has been appointed the University’s new Sexual Violence Investigative Officer.  Ms. Harley was an attorney in private practice as a litigator specializing in family law, civil law, criminal law and campus sexual misconduct matters with the firm of Marino & Conroy.  Previously, Ms. Harley worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for nearly 23 years, in a series of progressively responsible positons culminating in her service for 6 years as Chief of the Office’s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.  Ms. Harley served as co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence for three years and was then appointed co-chair of the Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Committee for three years.  Ms. Harley also was a member of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Medical/Legal Advisory for three years and the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Advisory Council for 6 years. 

Ms. Harley will serve as the University’s principal investigator of all complaints of violations of the University’s policy on Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence and Stalking made against students enrolled in any of Penn’s 12 schools.  She will work to support the University’s aims of fairly, fully, and promptly investigating all such complaints and support the implementation of the Amendment to the Student Disciplinary Charter for complaints of Sexual Violence.  She will also work with colleagues to educate students, faculty, and staff about the process for responding to complaints and assist with efforts to prevent sexual violence. Ms. Harley succeeds Mr. Christopher Mallios who was elected a judge of Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas.  Mr. Mallios assumes his judicial post in January 2016.
As the Chief of the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, Ms. Harley worked with partner agencies to ensure collaborative, trauma-informed, systemic responses during sexual assault investigations.  Ms. Harley, who earned a bachelor of science degree magna cum laude from the University of Scranton and a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law, has taught in a variety of educational and professional settings about sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking, and  best practices regarding interview methods and response options for addressing sexual misconduct. 

“Ms. Harley’s depth of experience in representing complainants and respondents in University sexual misconduct cases, her legal expertise and investigative skills, as well as her commitment to fairness and equity will position her exceptionally well to build on the strong track record left by Mr. Mallios,” said Vice President for Institutional Affairs Joann Mitchell.  “Ms. Harley’s current and former colleagues spoke of her unwavering commitment to ensuring that all parties are treated with dignity and respect resulted in a well-earned reputation for a relentless pursuit of the truth.”  “Ms. Harley is terrific for this position,” said Mr. Mallios.  “She truly understands the dynamics of campus sexual misconduct and has a proven track record of working collaboratively with other responders.”

Ms. Harley’s honors and awards include the Team Excellence Award from the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, the Women of Courage Award from the Lutheran Settlement House, and the Spartan Award from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.  Ms. Harley said that she “looks forward to working with Mr. Mallios to effect a smooth transition as well as with Penn students, faculty and staff to ensure that all parties continue to be treated equitably and with respect throughout the process.”