Berkeley's History of Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Institutional Betrayal


500 pages of sexual harassment investigations into faculty and staff released

UC Berkeley sex scandals: Record expose rampant violations
By Katy Murphy, Thomas Peele, Julia Prodis Sulek and Jason Green, Staff writers
San Jose Mercury News

Posted:Tue Apr 05 19:19:36 MDT 2016

BERKELEY — A trove of investigative and disciplinary documents released by UC Berkeley in the midst of an unfolding sexual harassment scandal reveals 19 employees — including six faculty members — were found to be in violation of the university’s sexual misconduct policies since 2011.

The records — obtained Tuesday by this newspaper in response to a Public Records Act request filed in November — bring to light 11 new cases that had not been disclosed during the recent high-profile revelations that tarnished a renowned astronomy professor, a vice chancellor, the dean of the law school and Cal’s assistant basketball coach.

The newly released reports, dating back to January 2011, show the university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination upheld sexual harassment claims against an assistant diving coach, a counselor for disabled students, an adjunct statistics professor and an assistant professor in South and Southeast Asian studies.

The new documents reveal that all of the employees fired as a result of sexual harassment violations were staff members; none were tenured faculty.

Faculty: Three of the six remain on the faculty, including two who stepped down from administrative roles; three resigned from the university, including an adjunct employee under the threat of termination; and discipline in one case is pending.
Staff: Four staff members were fired from the university and two resigned under threat of dismissal; two were suspended; three received pay cuts or demotions; one got a warning and one has appealed his firing.
Seven of the victims were students and 10 were employees.

The release of the reports comes as UC Berkeley faces a growing outcry over its handling of sexual harassment and misconduct on campus. Although University of California policy lists possible sanctions from least to most severe — written censure, reduction in salary, demotion, suspension, denial or curtailment of emeritus status, and dismissal — news reports in the past six months revealed that three faculty members who violated the sexual harassment policy received the lightest of the sanctions.

UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said Tuesday that it was difficult to say whether the campus gives faculty preferential treatment over staff because of the relatively small number of cases, but he said a new task force formed by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks would review the cases to assess how well they were handled.

“We want everything to be examined, up to and including how discipline is imposed and whether indeed there are disparities of how discipline is imposed based on the status of the accused,” Mogulof said. “The writing is on the wall. We know we must do a better job.”

Astronomer Geoff Marcy received a warning last year despite the university’s finding that he had serially harassed students over nearly a decade. Former law school dean Sujit Choudhry received a 10 percent pay cut but was initially allowed to keep his position after he was found to have sexually harassed his executive assistant. And former Vice Chancellor Graham Fleming — who stepped down last April amid allegations he had sexually harassed a staff member — quickly landed an administrative job as ambassador for UC Berkeley’s new Global Campus, a satellite campus in Richmond.

UC President Janet Napolitano last month ordered that Fleming be removed from that and any other administrative positions, but Fleming remains on the chemistry faculty.
Amid the growing scandal, Cal announced last month it was firing assistant basketball coach Yann Hufnagel over allegations affirmed by campus investigators that he had sexually harassed a female reporter — an investigation that dragged on for nearly 10 months after the reporter first approached the head coach to report the behavior.
Hufnagel is appealing the decision; his attorneys and public relations team have come forward with additional text-message exchanges between the assistant coach and the reporter, claiming there was “mutual flirtation.” The university’s response to his appeal is expected by the end of the week.

The new reports Tuesday show another Cal coach — assistant diving coach Todd Mulzet — was required to attend sexual harassment training and his salary was docked 5 percent for two months after he made repeated sexual comments to a staff member, including that he offered $300 for oral sex. Mulzet denied the allegations, claiming they were made in retaliation for a work-related issue.

The investigative and disciplinary reports released Tuesday evening include 800 pages of documents that had been heavily redacted to protect the privacy of the victims and witnesses. The reports contain graphic and, at times, disturbing accounts including foul language, explicit emails, unwanted sexual advances and sexual assault.

The newspaper on Tuesday night was unable to contact many of those named in the reports. The university attempted notify all of the accused employees it was releasing the information.

The cases involving employees interacting with students, included:
In sexually explicit emails last fall, Howard D’abrera, an adjunct professor in the Statistics Department, invited a student to Hawaii for a “dirty smoke-filled weekend of unadulterated guilty pleasure and sins,” according to the report. D’abrera also threatened to lower the student’s grade and spread sexual rumors about him if he didn’t accept D’abrera’s offer for a free trip to Australia.

After being placed on administrative leave and receiving a notice of the administration’s intent to fire him, D’abrera resigned in January.

Scott Anderson, a former disability counselor whose job involved coordinating academic services for students with major mood and psychotic disorders, was accused of sending “egregious, inexcusable” emails with sexual innuendo to a student with a psychiatric disability in 2008 and 2009. In one email, according to the documents, he attached a photo of whipped cream and handcuffs and asked what she was doing for Valentine’s Day. Anderson was given a notice of intent to dismiss and subsequently resigned, according to the university.

Investigators concluded Dr. Blake Wentworth, an assistant professor in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, made an “unwelcome, sexual advance” to a grad student in 2015, according to documents. Wentworth took the student’s hand, told her he was attracted to her, and asked her out to dinner, according to documents. Later, he came up behind her and cupped her ear.

University officials are still considering how to discipline Wentworth. In his defense, Wentworth told investigators the student started to talk about the intimate details of her personal life during an abstract conversation about marriage, but he told her, “I can’t talk to you about this because you’re an attractive woman.”

A massage therapist with Cal’s recreation department, Alan Wong, was fired after investigators found he “sexually assaulted” a woman by touching her vagina during a massage. Wong was not criminally charged because the student filed an anonymous complaint, which investigators found to be true. Wong denied the allegation to investigators.

One of the staff members fired for making inappropriate sexual comments to his subordinates said it’s no surprise that faculty members caught up in the scandal have been given lighter punishments.

“It’s easier for them to let us go, the staff members. We’re more dispensable than they are,” said Jeff Topacio, a Cal Dining manager who denied making the comments and blamed his staff for ganging up on him because he was a tough manager. “It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. There’s certain things they will, if you will, sweep under the carpet, turn a blind eye to it. But with staff, they tried to make an example of me.”

Contact Katy Murphy at

UC harassment inquiry shows system’s shortcomings, faculty say

By Melissa Batchelor Warnke, March 28, 2016

Faculty members are condemning the university’s handling of a string of recent sexual harassment cases.

Faculty members at UC Berkeley have stepped forward to condemn the university’s handling of yet another campus sexual harassment case, this one involving numerous complaints against a professor they say has dragged on without significant action for more than a year.

In a letter delivered to Vice Provost Janet Broughton, tenured professors in Berkeley’s South and Southeast Asian Studies department expressed frustration with the university’s drawn-out process for dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and other complaints against a fellow faculty member in their department.

Four cases against the assistant professor were filed with the university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination during the 2014-15 academic year, none of which has been completed.

In recent weeks, UC Berkeley has come under fire for its handling of a string of high-profile sexual-harassment cases involving a prominent astronomer, an assistant basketball coach and the dean of its law school. This latest case, which includes separate complaints by five students, exemplifies the university’s slow, confusing process for handling allegations of harassment, the faculty members and students involved said.

Limited action

In at least one of the cases, according to documents obtained by The Chronicle, prevention office investigators ruled that the professor’s behavior had been in violation of the university’s sexual harassment policy. The university’s only action so far has been to bar him from contact with any students involved in the complaints or entering the department’s graduate student office while it continues to investigate.

“I’m tired of being told to keep my mouth shut and let the wheels of justice turn, because they’re turning pretty slowly,” said Professor Jeff Hadler, former chair of the South and Southeast Asian Studies department. He was among those who signed the letter to the university Thursday, the same day Cal announced plans to speed up investigations and develop consistent disciplinary actions for all offenders.

The complaints have come against Blake Wentworth, an assistant professor specializing in Tamil literature. He said in an interview that he “categorically” rejects the allegations against him, which include making sexual remarks, inappropriate touching and cursing at students.

“More than anybody, I want the idea of sexual harassment to be clearly articulated. … And I also believe that I have not done it,” said Wentworth, who continues to teach in the department. He showed The Chronicle letters from former students praising him as a teacher.

Professor accused

In an interview, Srushti Vora, a female undergraduate student in the South and Southeast Asian Studies program, expressed disbelief about the claims of harassment, describing Wentworth as “the absolute best professor I have ever had. … If Berkeley loses him, it is a great loss.”

Comparative literature Professor Harsha Ram, who knows and taught two of the students who brought complaints, said, “I find their testimony very credible. Frankly, I doubt whether at this point there are any faculty members left in the departments affected who question their veracity.”

Former South and Southeast Asian Studies graduate students Maria Packman and Ali Hassan, current graduate student Kat Gutierrez and comparative literature student Erin Bennett all have filed separate reports with the prevention office complaining about Wentworth’s behavior. An undergraduate student has also filed a complaint, according to students in the department. That student declined to speak with The Chronicle.

UC Berkeley policy says that its process for investigating and adjudicating such complaints “will be completed within 60 business days from (the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination’s) receipt of a report absent an extension for good cause.” If there is an extension, it says, the complainant and respondent will be notified in writing.

The graduate students’ cases against Wentworth, however, have been pending for between 11 and 14 months. They say they have not received any final findings, known as Case Outcome Letters, extension notifications or timelines for resolution.

‘Policy not clear’

In response to one student whose advocate inquired about making an appeal after an initial finding that her complaint did not constitute sexual harassment, a prevention office official wrote that “admittedly, the policy is not clear on particular process matters related to ‘appeals.’”

Claire Holmes, a spokeswoman for the university, said in an email to The Chronicle: “We understand and share the concerns about the time this has taken. These are the exact issues that the Chancellor and the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost announced (Thursday) that they are focused on improving — creating effective processes to detect, investigate and implement timely disciplinary action.”

She wrote that faculty investigators are close to completing their investigation of Wentworth, that the university will move quickly to take actions based on their findings, and that additional resources are being provided to the prevention office.

On Sunday, the university announced that Carla Hesse, dean of social sciences and a faculty member since 1989, will lead its efforts to improve its response to sexual harassment and assault. She will serve in that role until it is filled permanently over the summer, the university said.

Beginning Monday, Jody Shipper, the director for Title IX and sexual violence and sexual assault issues in UC system President Janet Napolitano’s office, will be assigned to work with the Berkeley campus to ensure “the fair and expeditious handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment investigations” through the current semester, the university said.

UC President Janet Napolitano will begin receiving written reports on UC Berkeley’s efforts to quickly resolve sexual assault and sexual harassment cases.

But South and Southeast Asian Studies Professor Sylvia Tiwon, one of the faculty members who signed the letter to the university about the Wentworth case, expressed frustration that it took bringing media attention to the situation to get action.

“If you don’t speak publicly, it’s like it never happened,” said Tiwon. “And there’s never enough evidence to satisfy everybody. … Think about what these students have to go through. It’s a very demeaning process, and it’s an unbearable choice they have to make, whether to stay in this system and struggle for their careers … or to release from it all and walk away.”

“The reality is that graduate students by their very nature don’t stick around — they graduate, or they drop out,” said Hadler. “And if the system itself is designed to generate delays, then it can be running out the clock in some ways. That’s a real problem.”

‘I felt ashamed’

The incidents described in the complaints against Wentworth date to September 2014, when Bennett began studying Tamil with him. According to her prevention office report, Bennett alleged that over the course of the next two months before she dropped his course, Wentworth brushed her hand, confided in her about his marriage, called her a “poor little lamb,” found excuses to draw too close to her, told her “Tamil is better than sex,” and encouraged her to contact him on his personal email account.

“I felt ashamed because, on paper, what he did to me didn’t seem that bad. But I couldn’t ignore the way it made me feel,” Bennett said.

A faculty member reported Bennett’s case to the prevention office in February 2015. Eight months later, the office sent Bennett a report stating that Wentworth’s conduct “was unprofessional, and exhibited poor personal boundaries,” but ruling he had not violated UC’s sexual harassment policy in her case.

Wentworth called Bennett’s charges “outrageous” and provided a series of email exchanges he had with her, which he said demonstrated his professionalism and her “enthusiasm for the course.”

More complaints filed

In February 2015, South and Southeast Asian Studies grad student Gutierrez said Wentworth asked her to take a walk with him. According to her prevention office report, Gutierrez said that Wentworth held her hand and told her: “I could lose my job. … I’d talk to you more about this, but I’m so attracted to you.” Later, he placed his hand to her head and cupped her ear.

Though she was anxious and angry following the incident, Gutierrez said, she was initially afraid to file a complaint. She reported the incident two months later.

Wentworth denied the allegations, noting that he “at most patted her shoulder,” and said he told her she was an “attractive woman” to explain why he could not engage in conversation about her personal life, according to the prevention office report.

In October 2015, the prevention office ruled that Wentworth’s behavior in the Gutierrez case was in violation of the university’s sexual harassment policy, saying the student’s “version of the incident is more credible than the Respondent’s version.” The prevention office report said the finding would be forwarded to the vice provost’s office.

Former South and Southeast Asian Studies graduate student Hassan filed a complaint with the prevention office in May 2015. In an interview, Hassan said he described incidents where Wentworth smelled of alcohol, talked about the sexual practice of fisting in front of an undergraduate student, and told stories about using cocaine and other drugs. He said he has not heard from the prevention office since he filed the report.

Wentworth said he was unaware of Hassan’s complaint and was “stunned” that he had filed it.

The case that former South and Southeast Asian Studies graduate student Packman brought was about maltreatment rather than sexual harassment. In an interview, Packman said that Wentworth berated her at length in his office, saying she’d been “really f— up.”

Student waits to hear

Wentworth said he was unaware that she had filed a complaint, but acknowledged the exchange in an interview. He said he had called Packman in “after she had submitted a completely unacceptable master’s thesis.” He said “if I have used profanity in front of a student it is only if they have done so with me.”

Packman, who Tiwon described as a “brilliant” student, reported the incident in May 2015. The prevention office offered her additional time to pursue her coursework, but Packman elected to leave the program.

Packman says that the prevention office contacted her in February to arrange a meeting with a committee investigating her complaint over Skype. She said she wrote back with her availability but has not received a response. She said she has not received a formal copy of her investigation report, nor received any updates from the office.

Bennett, who was the first to file a complaint, took medical leave from the university in November 2015. She’d been diagnosed with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder related to the case, according to a note from her physician.

This month, she met with an ad hoc committee made up of two professors and a prevention office representative, apparently continuing her case review. Bennett says they told her that after they reach a verdict, her case will be forwarded to two other committees. Bennett says she does not know what the other committees are or what their charge is. She hopes to return to school in the fall.

‘Untenable situation’

Wentworth declined to comment on the university’s handling of the complaints against him, but said the cases are all different and “should not all be lumped” together. “The adjudication is not done, and I expect to be fully vindicated,” he said.

Said faculty member Ram: “My main concern at present is that the slowness and vagaries of the investigative process have left all affected students in an untenable situation, where they are effectively denied the possibility of continuing their studies in a safe and secure environment, while supportive faculty members look on aghast, with little power to change the situation for the better.”


UC Berkeley draws fire over sex harassment case, law school dean steps down

By Katy Murphy,

POSTED:   03/09/2016 11:04:00 AM PST |

Sujit Choudhry

Sujit Choudhry (Courtesy of University of California)

BERKELEY — For the second time in five months, UC Berkeley is facing an outcry over its handling of a sexual harassment case involving a powerful faculty member: the dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, whose case came to light this week in a lawsuit filed by a former executive assistant.

Sujit Choudhry — who stepped down Wednesday from his position as dean but will remain on the faculty — acknowledged to campus investigators last year that he had hugged, kissed and caressed his administrative assistant, Tyann Sorrell, saying it was his way of “saying thanks” after a long day of work, according to an investigative report released Wednesday by the university.

 But Berkeley’s provost allowed the dean to keep his prestigious position at the top-tier law school — stating that he “didn’t want to ruin the dean’s career,” according to the lawsuit — even after a university investigation concluded in July that Choudhry had sexually harassed Sorrell. The dean took a one-year, 10 percent pay cut and was ordered to undergo counseling — and to write Sorrell an apology.

“I was insulted when I heard the disciplinary actions,” Sorrell said in an interview Wednesday, “and though I wasn’t asking for his termination, it was ever so apparent to me that it was a slap on the wrist for them.”

 The lawsuit filed Tuesday against Choudhry and the University of California regents comes after UC Berkeley came under fire for letting world-renowned astronomer Geoff Marcy off with a warning after he was found to have sexually harassed students over nearly a decade. The Marcy case prompted the University of California system to review its tenure policies, including its statute of limitations; recommendations are expected in April.

Marcy resigned amid a national outcry; the majority of his colleagues wrote a letter calling for his departure.

 Now, some students, faculty and alumni are calling for Choudhry’s firing, appalled by the treatment he received. A letter signed by a group of UC Berkeley Law alumni called the decision last year to keep him on as dean “unreasonable, laughable, and insulting.” An adjunct lecturer at the law school who specializes in sexual harassment cases described the outcome as “absurd” but not surprising.

“Once again we’re seeing a person in power who uses that power to do something they absolutely understand is a violation,” said Barbara Bryant, who has taught at the law school and has a mediation practice in Berkeley.Thanh Bercher, a junior public health major, said her heart went out to Sorrell. The consequences for Choudhry’s behavior, she said, were “so minimal compared to the effect it had on this person’s life.”

On Wednesday, Provost Claude Steele defended those and other sanctions he issued against Choudhry last year, saying he believed they would “produce the necessary changes in his behavior.”

“I know we all share the goal of eliminating sexual harassment and all forms of discriminatory behavior at UC Berkeley,” Steele said in an emailed statement. “I intend to listen carefully to what members of our campus community and others have to suggest when it comes to how we prevent and respond to incidents like these.”

If it weren’t for the lawsuit, Choudhry’s actions would still be largely unknown to the public. UC Berkeley has failed to release records concerning employees disciplined for sexual harassment and misconduct in response to a Public Records Act request filed by this newspaper in early November. The campus says it does not keep such records centrally and has yet to hear back from all of the offices that hold them.

“That said, we will be sending out again a very firm message to people internally that if they have records responsive to this request they must be submitted to our public records office immediately,” said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Choudhry, a comparative constitutional law expert and a member of the United Nations Mediation Roster, was appointed dean of the UC Berkeley law school in July 2014, replacing Christopher Edley. He was previously on the faculty at the NYU School of Law. An interim replacement has not been named.

On Wednesday, Choudhry released a statement through his lawyer, saying he disagreed with claims in the lawsuit but decided to step down as dean to “not become a distraction for the law school, the university and our community whose interests I have always placed above all else.”

In the lawsuit, Sorrell — now on paid leave — alleges two of the school’s top managers did nothing to address the problem after she complained of the harassment, despite promising to do so. Both told her that they, too, had experienced unwanted touching by the dean, she said.

The campus investigation began after Sorrell forwarded the law school’s director of human resources a six-page email she had written to Choudhry in March 2015, “informing him that she was tired of him constantly touching and kissing her, she felt violated and humiliated, that his conduct had caused her a significant amount of stress and anxiety for a long time, and that her health had significantly deteriorated as a result of his conduct,” the lawsuit says.

The probe concluded in July 2015. In August, Sorrell learned about the sanctions given to her boss.

When she met with Steele, the provost, in late October, he told her “he had seriously considered terminating the Dean but that the reason he had decided not to was because it would ruin the Dean’s career,” according to the lawsuit.

Sorrell said she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“Those were the words that pierced right through me, that broke me,” said Sorrell, a mother of five who is struggling to find another job.

In recent months professors from the University of Chicago, Caltech, Northwestern and UC Berkeley have been caught up in high-profile sexual harassment cases, but the issue is far from new.

The Berkeley case wasn’t even the first scandal involving a UC Berkeley law dean. In 2002, Dean John Dwyer stepped down and resigned from his faculty position after a former law student accused him of sexual misconduct at her apartment after a night of drinking at a law school-related function in 2000.

Staff writer Angela Ruggiero contributed to this report.

Here’s How Geoff Marcy’s Sexual Harassment Went On For Decades

Colleagues looking the other way, dysfunctional sexual harassment policies, and a “culture of quiet” in science enabled Geoff Marcy’s harassment to go on for so long.

Alex Garland—Demotix / Corbis

In the first few days after Geoff Marcy, one of the world’s most famous astronomers, resigned from his tenured position at UC Berkeley, many people wondered if the sexual harassment rulebook in academia was finally changing.

Maybe the era when a star professor could kiss, massage, and grope female students; when multiple complaints could go nowhere; when a six-month university investigation could find violations and yet issue no disciplinary sanctions; when in the first few hours after a scandal broke, a department chair could say it was hardest on the perpetrator himself — maybe those bad old days were finally over.

But now, a month later, as the extent of Geoff Marcy’s decades-long behavior comes into clearer view, the conversation has grown considerably less euphoric. Berkeley faculty, other scientists, activists, and pissed-off observers are asking: How could this possibly have gone on so long?

Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California, said that the Marcy case “has highlighted the urgent need to review University policies that inadvertently made the investigation and resolution of this case more difficult.” She has convened an emergency committee that has until February 2016 to review how investigations are conducted and punitive measures doled out.

Other changes are also afoot. Science departments across the country have gathered in town hall meetings to discuss how to handle the problem of sexual harassment in their fields, and several major conferences have set up panels on the issue. The American Astronomical Society is revising its ethics code to have its own mechanisms for investigations and sanctions relating to misconduct among its members.

But more potent solutions may not be easy to find. A cynical take is that the forces that allowed Marcy to harass women for so many years — his prestige; his ability to bring in funding; the employment protections he enjoyed as a tenured professor; the outdated, onerous, and secretive nature of sexual harassment investigations — are not anomalies of an outlying department, but in many cases defining traits of academia. Undoing these advantages, some experts say, will spur the next big wave of legal battles on college campuses.

Sexual harassment in science is not rare. Last year, a survey of 666 scientists found that nearly two-thirds had experienced some form of verbal sexual harassment while doing field research, while 1 in 5 had experienced sexual assault. Overwhelmingly, those experiencing harassment were students or postdocs.

In the early stages of their careers, young scientists are entirely dependent on access to expensive instruments, to vast data sets, and to well-funded research projects — which means they are entirely dependent on the favor of senior faculty members.

“You need to step into their world in order to succeed,” Christina Richey, the chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, told BuzzFeed News. “It leads to this huge power imbalance when you’re heavily reliant on that individual being a decent person.”

Superstar professors create their own centers of gravity. Geoff Marcy was a frequently cited contender for the Nobel, at a university that proudly boasts its 22 laureates. With $900,000 in federal grants and $100 million in a private research effort to find “civilizations beyond Earth,” Marcy brought in the kind of money that most institutions only dream about.

Marcy, through his lawyer, declined to comment. A Berkeley spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that they “categorically reject any suggestion that the process was, at any point, influenced by his status, prominence or research funding.”

But according to many former students, Marcy’s outsize reputation reinforced a culture of silence in Berkeley’s astronomy department.

“Grad students and postdocs had heard about this, and they’d heard about people filing complaints before and nothing happening,” said Therese Jones, a former graduate student in Berkeley’s astronomy department who started in 2009 but left after four years to pursue a career in space policy. “There was a lot of reluctance to try to go through the faculty to do anything else.”

The current co-chair of the department, Gibor Basri, knew about allegations of Marcy’s harassment as far back as 2006, when a graduate student informed him of many instances of sexual harassment that students had shared with her.

Basri has been a close friend of Marcy’s since they first collaborated in the mid-1990s. (He was the author of the department-wide email saying the scandal was “hardest for Geoff.”) He says he was shocked to hear about the sexual harassment allegations in 2006 and immediately went to the Title IX office, a required action for any faculty member who hears such a complaint. But he says he was told the same thing the graduate student who brought the matter to his attention had been told when she went to that office: The women who said Marcy had harassed them needed to come forward themselves to file a formal complaint.

“They told me that without a formal complaint both they and I were quite limited in how we could respond,” Basri told BuzzFeed News. He said he spoke to Marcy, “read him the riot act” about how this type of behavior was “absolutely inappropriate and illegal,” and told the graduate student to let him know if she heard about any more cases. Even as the department chair, he said, he couldn’t do much more than that.

“My hands were tied, and it’s not without some reason that they were tied,” Basri said. “You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I hear you’re a bad guy, I’m going to do this to you.’ That’s why it was very important that formal complaints be filed.”

Basri left his position as chair in 2007 to assume the campus-wide position of vice chancellor of equity and inclusion, then returned as interim chair in July of this year, just before the investigation broke. In the intervening years, the chair was Imke de Pater, one of the department’s few female faculty members.

According to Berkeley’s spokesperson, an anonymous complaint about Marcy’s behavior — an allegation from a third party that “involved Marcy providing professional encouragement to a student and possibly taking her photograph during class” — was officially filed with the Title IX office in 2011. Department chairs are always notified of these complaints, the spokesperson said. (De Pater did not respond to a request for comment.) But because there was only that one formal complaint, the spokesperson added, it “severely limited disciplinary options at that time.”

While Basri says he did his due diligence, others are now asking whether he and others in the astronomy department did enough.

“Their hands may have been tied as far as using formal disciplinary measures, but nobody says, ‘The only way I can get my kid to clean his room is when it gets so bad I can call the health department,’” Michael O’Hare, a professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, told BuzzFeed News.

“They didn’t do what they had to do as colleagues and as friends, in the interest of the field of astronomy and their students.”

Wikipedia / Via

For Berkeley, Marcy’s reputation may have been a double-edged sword. His celebrated accomplishments reflected positively on Berkeley as a whole. But as whisperings of his misdeeds spread far beyond the Berkeley campus, they had the opposite effect, hampering his department’s ability to recruit and retain talent.

A public incident at the American Astronomical Society’s 2010 meeting in Washington, D.C., for example, raised wide alarm about Marcy’s inappropriate behavior with undergraduate students.

“I know female postdocs were refusing to apply to faculty positions at Berkeley because of this perceived reputation,” Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s astronomy department, told BuzzFeed News. “When a situation like that persists there is other damage that happens to the department that is very real. If this persists, it suppresses diversity on many levels.” Marcy’s fame was also responsible for his swift downfall, Loeb noted.

When change did eventually come, it did not come from the top. After hearing about Marcy’s behavior on an astronomy Facebook group dedicated to diversity in the field, an untenured faculty member named Aaron Parsons decided he had to act.

Parsons alerted two other perceived allies in the department to the issue, telling them that outside of Berkeley, people were encouraging several women to file an official Title IX gender discrimination complaint with the university. They needed the help of people from within the department to shepherd the process. Another, tenured professor, Eugene Chiang (who has since replaced Basri as chair), submitted the first two complaints to the Title IX office last summer.

“On the one hand, it feels like more should have been done,” Parsons told BuzzFeed News. “Why was I one of the first to actually try to go and find other complaints? Why wasn’t more done to put together a case earlier? I think that is a legitimate question. I acted as soon as I had an inkling. Others had more than inklings.”

But in September, when the investigation concluded and Marcy was found in violation of the university’s faculty code of conduct from 2001 to 2010, only seven people — Basri, Marcy, the dean, and the four complainants — were informed. What’s more, the complainants were not told what his consequences would be, other than noting that if he broke the rules again, he would be subject to immediate disciplinary sanctions.

(A Berkeley spokesperson subsequently told BuzzFeed News that Marcy was barred from physical contact with students, other than handshakes. He was also prohibited from socializing with students, providing them with alcohol, entering their living spaces or inviting them to his own, and discussing sex with them.)

After the investigation was complete, the university told Basri to keep an ear to the ground for any future violations, he said. “That struck me as very untenable. The department is unanimous in the feeling that that’s a completely broken policy.”

Basri says he was told not to tell anyone about the case or its results. Instead, many of the faculty members claim they found out about the investigation from the BuzzFeed News story.

“We did work within the system,” Parsons said, “but the system failed us too.”

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images / Via

That the Marcy investigation happened at all owes a great deal to activists who have been shouting loud and clear about the problem of sexual assault on college campuses.

Although Title IX was for decades known as a law concerning college athletics, in 2011 the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sent universities a letter reminding them that the law also covered cases of sexual harassment and violence. College campuses scrambled to update their sexual misconduct rules, but in many cases it was too little, too late: More than 100 universities, including Berkeley, are currently under federal investigation for violating Title IX in their handling of sexual violence cases.

More recently, the dozens of women coming out with allegations against Bill Cosby gave a clear picture of what can happen when victims of sexual misconduct decide to end their years of silence.

By 2014, the women in the Marcy case came forward knowing there were others like them. And when they saw how the investigation panned out, they and others were able to amplify their protests on Twitter and Facebook, sign petitions, and write blog posts saying that it was time for change.

“Universities have been able to rely on the lack of institutional memory that’s created by having students cycle in and out every four years or so,” said Sofie Karasek, one of the three women currently suing Berkeley for its handling of her sexual assault case while she was an undergraduate.

“That means that students that are coming in and are having the same problems as women before them don’t necessarily know the infrastructure of how the university works, haven’t realized that certain tactics are better than others, don’t know who the good allies are,” she said. “With student movements you’ve often had to start fresh. But social media has helped mitigate that.”

But Title IX policies are especially complicated when it comes to faculty protected by tenure and various other employee rights. Unlike harassment between two students, in which case both are governed by the student code of conduct, when a faculty member harasses a student, the separate policies can sometimes act against each other.

“What you’re seeing here is employment culture butting up against the system of public justice — and swift justice — under Title IX,” said Peter Lake, a law professor at Stetson University. “Universities are being forced to ask how all these pieces fit together in a way that no one was really asking prior to 2011.”

Meaningful policy changes will also require a deep re-evaluation of the culture of science that has so far served as the status quo, said Katie Hinde, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, who led the survey of sexual harassment among scientists. Change requires more than just the most vulnerable speaking out.

“The culture is changing — I have no doubt the culture’s changing for the better,” Hinde said. “But we’re going to have to see systematic protections that make it no longer a ‘culture of quiet,’ but a culture of accountability.”

31 women accuse UC Berkeley of botching sexual assault investigations


Jason Felch

Thirty-one current and former UC Berkeley students filed two federal complaints against the university Wednesday alleging a decades-long pattern of mishandling sexual assault investigations by campus administrators.

The complaints allege that officials for years have discouraged victims from reporting assaults, failed to inform them of their rights and led a biased judicial process that favored assailants’ rights over those of their victims.

The reports were filed with the U.S. Department of Education, which investigates violations of Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law, and the Clery Act, a federal law that requires campuses to accurately report incidents of serious crimes, including sexual assault. Under Title IX, campuses that receive federal funding are required to impartially investigate allegations of sexual assault, which is considered a form of gender discrimination.

Last May, nine students filed a complaint citing Clery violations. Students said because the Education Department has not responded, they filed another report, updating the original and adding 22 people.

The Education Department did not comment on the Clery or Title IX complaints Wednesday.

“Neither the Department of Education nor UC Berkeley have made the efforts necessary to address the pervasive culture of sexual violence on our campus,” said Sofie Karasek, a third-year student who is among those named in the complaints. “This is not only disappointing; it is also dangerous for the students who attend college here, and is representative of a larger problem: the federal government is not adequately enforcing its own laws.”

Berkeley administrators had not seen the complaints, they said, but the women who filed it have raised awareness.

“Their stories are heart-wrenching,” said Claire Holmes, a campus spokeswoman. “It’s unimaginable, the kind of trauma they’ve been through.”

Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks issued a statement Tuesday announcing new hires to help investigate these crimes and to help victims navigate the reporting system. He also said victims will be allowed to appeal decisions in internal sexual misconduct cases.

Berkeley joins a growing group of universities and colleges nationwide targeted for Title IX complaints by student activists, including at USC and Occidental College. That network of former and current students, End Rape on Campus, is seeking changes in a culture that it says treats rape and sexual assault as a routine part of college life. President Obama last month created a task force to try to combat sexual assaults on campus.

State auditors have included UC Berkeley in a review of how four California campuses handled assault allegations.

The Times reviewed portions of the Title IX complaint and interviewed several of the plaintiffs. In some cases, they asked to be identified by name.

Among them:

Diva Kass, a 2009 graduate, said she was raped at a fraternity party her junior year. A sorority sister told Kass she had been raped by the same man.

After Kass filed a complaint with Berkeley administrators, they convened a three-member panel that found her assailant was not responsible for the rape. Her assailant and his fraternity later settled a civil lawsuit she had filed.

“I felt betrayed by the system,” Kass said in an interview from Indiana, where she is a law student. “The fact that the university I loved seemed to not care about me and was willing to find in his favor so they wouldn’t have to report a rape on campus … it was incredibly heartbreaking.”

Aryle Butler, a junior, said she was assaulted twice in 2012 while attending a summer program affiliated with Berkeley. She said she told staff about the incidents. That fall, one of Butler’s friends alleged that she had been assaulted on campus, which also was reported to administrators. Shortly afterward, Butler said, a Berkeley Police Department officer came to their dorm to interview her and her friend at 2 a.m. on a Sunday.

Butler was among the students who filed the initial Clery complaint against Berkeley.

Four women in both complaints say they were assaulted in 2012 by the same man, a senior who led a college-sponsored club. Eight months after filing their complaint, the women learned that Berkeley had put the senior on probation, required him to attend counseling and allowed him to graduate.

Karasek was a freshman when she joined that student group at a February 2012 meeting in San Diego. Karasek said a leader of the group, a Berkeley junior, groped her repeatedly in the middle of the night.

She learned later that two other women in the club had similar experiences with the man.

One said she was assaulted the night after Karasek. The other woman said she was sexually assaulted by him a few weeks later. The two said they knew another freshman who had experienced the same thing on another group trip. That woman had abruptly quit the club and never filed a complaint.

During their meeting with administrators, the three freshmen were surprised to find a fourth Berkeley student there. She too said she had been assaulted by the man.

Karasek said she submitted her statement in May and assumed the matter was being investigated.

In September, Berkeley’s Title IX coordinator, Denise Oldham, told Anais LaVoie, a student leader in the club, that Karasek’s case had been resolved, without a hearing, through an early resolution process, according to the federal complaint.

“We see over 500 cases every year but are only able to seek formal disciplinary resolutions in two cases the previous year,” Oldham told LaVoie, the complaint said.

Oldham gave the same statistic to another assault victim, according to the complaint. Berkeley’s official statistics show there were 31 sexual assaults reported in 2012.

“I didn’t say it,” Oldham said in an interview. “That certainly sounds discouraging to me. It certainly wouldn’t serve our office to discourage someone from reporting.”

Oldham said that Berkeley does not use an early resolution for cases of sexual assault: “I can’t imagine a situation where that would be appropriate.”

Yet a December email sent to Karasek states: “This matter has been explored and resolved using an early resolution process…”

Times staff writer Jason Song contributed to this report.

Handling of Harassment Hearing Draws Complaints

About a year ago, Angelica Guevara was allegedly sexually battered by a fellow student at UC Berkeley’s School of Law.

It took her five months to build up the courage, but in July 2010, she and another woman decided to come forward and report the incidents to the campus Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards after hearing that several other women had also felt harassed by the same individual.

But for months after coming forward, Guevara – who graduated last May – has dealt with last-minute conduct hearing cancellations, miscommunication between the campus and witnesses to the incident and insufficient information about the standing of the case due to federal restrictions placed on the campus. And now that the hearing has happened, she may never find out the outcome.

“The tragedy is that it makes me not want to come forward if something worse were to happen in the future,” Guevara said. “I’m disappointed to know that if a woman comes forward, her voice is still diminished.”

Guevara alleges that she was grabbed inappropriately by a male law student last year while walking across campus with a friend. The other law school graduate to file a complaint against the same male student, Oriana Sandoval, had been at a law school event discussing the male student’s pending divorce, when, after the others in her group left, he allegedly told Sandoval that his divorce was in her interest before putting two fingers up to his mouth and simulating oral sex.

“My incident was in a pattern of behavior,” Sandoval said. “His behavior was escalating and that was why I filed a complaint.”

Per student conduct procedure, the women were put in touch with Denise Oldham, interim Title IX officer and director of the Campus Climate and Compliance Office – which investigates complaints of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination and provides direction to the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards in the resolution and investigation of these complaints.

When Oldham told Guevara that she had been unable to contact Guevara’s two witnesses, Guevara e-mailed them on Sept. 1 to ask why they had not responded to Oldham and CC-ed Oldham and two law professors.

After receiving a reply from both witnesses saying that they had not been contacted by Oldham, Guevara received a phone call from Oldham advising her that it was better to handle this issue over the phone instead of by e-mail.

“I remember hanging up the phone and crying uncontrollably,” Guevara said. “I felt alone, and I began to feel I regretted the day I came forward.”

The hearing was rescheduled twice, but ultimately took place Jan. 26. Guevara said she was given one night’s notice before each cancellation and had had to cancel work in planning to attend each.

Due to work-related commitments, Sandoval, who lives in New Mexico, had informed the center she would not be available to Skype into the hearing, which meant she was unable to corroborate Guevara’s allegations.

“If we couldn’t have been there in person or Skype in, there should have been alternative ways for us to participate,” Sandoval said. “Written questions could have been submitted to me.”

Due to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the campus cannot discuss conduct cases unless the person investigated gives their consent – thus, the campus may be unable to disclose the hearing outcome or the reason for the cancellations, to Guevara or Sandoval.

“It’s unfortunate that we are, at times, limited by the law in terms of the information we are allowed to provide,” Oldham said in an e-mail. “The result is that complainants are not always aware of all the efforts we are making to fully investigate their allegations.”

Susan Trageser of the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards said there are two exceptions under the conduct code where complainants may learn of an outcome – in an instance of significant violence or an issue of sexual assault. Because this case does not fall under these categories, Guevara and Sandoval may not learn of the hearing’s outcome.

“(Now) I don’t care whether he’s found guilty or not,” Guevara said. “The damage is already done.”

Student regent resigns after sex crime allegations

Photo: Jesse Cheng

Jesse Cheng

Jesse Cheng officially announced his resignation from his position as the UC Student Regent on Monday, ending his term that had been marred by controversy.

Cheng’s term took a contentious turn when he was arrested by Irvine police in November on suspicion of sexual battery. Accused of inappropriately touching a woman who only identified herself as “Laya” in order to protect her identity as a victim of an alleged sex crime, Cheng was later found responsible of a student conduct violation for sexual battery by the UC Irvine Student Conduct Office in March.

Though Cheng decided to appeal the office’s decision, his appeal was denied. He received a sanction of probation until the end of the quarter.

Announcing his resignation via a letter on the UC Regent Live blog, Cheng specifically addressed the office’s ruling, stating that he felt stepping down now was the right decision despite the fact that he did not agree with the findings.

“It is a much lower standard of evidence than a criminal court, but I also recognize that the process nevertheless applies to me as a student,” Cheng said in the letter. “Seeing how it will be my last meeting as a Student Regent, and how much of a distraction from other serious student issues that this issue has continued to cause, I think it would be best for the students and the University of California if I step down at this time.”

But the decision to resign did not come out of the blue, Cheng said. Rather, the idea to resign had been months in the making – since January, according to Cheng.

“One of the reasons I didn’t do it sooner was because we still had stuff going on, and I was working on a project I wanted to get out of the way and accomplish before I resigned,” he said. “I am pretty much a lame duck student regent now and there was no real reason for me to continue on.”

Cheng added that officially assuming the student regent position after serving as the Student Regent-Designate for one year was not what he expected, saying that his assumptions of what the position demanded – time, energy and travel – were not what he planned, admitting that late night drives from Irvine to Sacramento and staying in motels took its toll on his personal life and his academics.

Cheng submitted his resignation letter on May 13, though the UC Board of Regents Chair Russell Gould did not formally accept Cheng’s decision to vacate his position until Monday. The board released a statement Tuesday confirming Student Regent-Designate Alfredo Mireles Jr.’s immediate take-over of the position.

“Regent Mireles’ service on the Board will begin immediately after Regent Cheng tendered his resignation to ensure that the student perspective on the board is without interruption,” the statement reads.

Mireles said he was fully prepared to take the student regent position despite the fact that he was assuming it early. He said he has been “gearing up for a while” for the position by constantly communicating with Cheng throughout the year so that he would be as ready as possible for when he assumed the position, which was originally scheduled to be at the July regents meeting.

“It’s not like I had to bleed information out of him. We had constant communication,” Mireles said of his time serving with Cheng. “(Jesse Cheng) really came of age through his leadership, and he really invested in grassroots action. I’ve been trying to plant those roots myself, but I still have a lot of work to do.”

Cheng, who will be graduating from UC Irvine in June, said he feels comfortable stepping away from the position and that he still hopes to be a part of student advocacy groups wherever he goes.

“Personally I don’t think I accomplished very much as I focused more of my work on supporting others,” he said. “Life is a journey. I was reminded that I’m still young, and I still have the chance to live life. I’m still 22, and for me, it’s important to always be politically active.”

Former campus doctor faces charges

A former UC Berkeley health center doctor was charged Wednesday by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office with 19 counts of sex crimes against former patients.

Robert Kevess, who worked for University Health Services for nearly 22 years, is alleged to have committed the sex crimes against six former patients beginning in 2006. The charges include four counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious victim – meaning the victims were unaware of the nature of the acts because they occurred during a medical exam – as well as seven counts of sexual battery committed with false professional purpose and eight counts of sexual exploitation of a patient.

Kevess pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment Thursday at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

He surrendered Wednesday night and was released on bail, according to UCPD Capt. Margo Bennett. The bail for Kevess was set at $745,000, which he posted.

The patients were all male, between the ages of 18 and 42 and students at the time of the alleged incidents, said Bennett.

Kevess faces the charges under both the state’s Penal Code and its Business and Professions Code for allegedly using his position as a doctor to commit the crimes. Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the alleged sex acts “were committed by fraudulent means during the course of medical treatment.”

Kevess has been placed on interim suspension from his profession, meaning that he will not practice medicine for the duration of the case, according to his attorney, Robert Beles.

According to the charges, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the alleged crimes occurred between March 9, 2006, and March 9, 2011.

In a statement, Claudia Covello, executive director of University Health Services, and Brad Buchman, medical director of University Health Services, said that no problems were identified during Kevess’ most recent re-accreditation review in the July 2010.

According to the statement, one of Kevess’ former patients met with Buchman March 23 and detailed the alleged sex crimes. Once University Health Services heard the allegations, it notified UCPD, and Kevess was placed on administrative leave March 31 after he returned from a weeklong vacation. Kevess then resigned on April 14.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau was informed of the allegations the day after the meeting with the patient, according to the statement.

“This news is shocking and profoundly unsettling for all of us,” Birgeneau said in a statement Thursday morning. “On behalf of the entire Berkeley campus, we deeply regret any harm that has been caused.”

Beles said the case was “grossly overcharged.”

“The plea is not guilty,” Beles said. “We will be making motions to dismiss the charges of the complaint.”

Bennett said it is possible that other victims could come forward as the case evolves, saying that UCPD is still conducting an “active investigation.” She said former patients who believe they may have had sexual contact with Kevess in the past are encouraged to contact UCPD.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said University Health Services will be conducting a “top-to-bottom” review of any policy associated with patient care, protection and education.

“Our primary focus is, as it has always been, on the needs of our patients and former patients, and on steps we can take to prevent anything remotely similar from ever happening again,” said Covello and Buchman in their statement. “We are convinced that, together, we can surmount the challenges before us, continue to provide excellent care for our patients and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure we retain your trust and confidence.”

University Boosts Outreach Programs Against Sex Crimes

University sexual assault prevention workshops are increasing this year in efforts to combat the area’s rising number of sexual assaults and rapes-problems campus officials say are often swept under the rug.

Last year, there were 13 cases of sexual assaults and rapes reported to UC police, up from eight in 2002 and three in 2001.

With the number of reported sexual crimes increasing, university officials are stepping up their efforts to educate students, with more workshops put on by residence halls, Greek houses, student groups and University Health Services.

“We’re very cognizant that the issue of education is really critical, sometimes immediately after the situation, and also on a long-term basis,” said Title IX Compliance Officer Nancy Chu.

The campus has been rethinking its tactic toward sexual assault education, enlisting the support of staff and students who can reach a large number of students instead of targeting individual students, said Allan Creighton, campus health officer for violence prevention.

“The topic is really an unpopular one for students to deal with,” Creighton said. “We’ve had a lot of experience doing a lot of preparation for a workshop, and then two or three people show up, so we’ve decided to use a more structural approach.”

After a U.S. Department of Justice report released in 2000 showed that one in five undergraduate women will become victims of rape or attempted rape, the campus decided sexual assault was a problem needing more attention.

“When we found out about (the study), that became an anchor for the prevention program here,” Creighton said.

Recent efforts have been focused on residence halls, Creighton said. More than 60 percent of sexual assault cases occur in the victim’s residence, he said.

Residence hall staff are now required to undergo extensive training on sexual assaults, and they work with sexual assault educators to put on workshops and outreach programs throughout the year, said Stacy Holguin, a manager in the Office of Student Development.

Kevin Wu, a residence hall assistant at Bowles Hall, received a two-hour talk on sexual assault during training.

“I think the majority of RAs liked it,” he said. “As RAs, (sexual assault) is definitely something that we will come across.”

The campus has also turned its attention toward male students, Creighton said-and male students have sought out ways to help as well.

“I’ll actually have men ask me, ‘What can we do to help?'” he said. “My response is that they can be allies.”

After Hours, a program started a few years ago, also puts on workshops weekly for fraternities and sororities. Each year, they reach dozens of fraternities, Creighton said.

Delta Chi fraternity member Anil Daryani said he was shocked by sexual assault statistics presented at a mandatory workshop on substance abuse, which also dealt with sexual assault.

“Bringing facts and figures like that to light is very important,” he said. “You don’t think it happens much, but it does.”

Student groups have also taken up the fight against sexual assault. SHAPE, a DE-Cal class, devises workshops for students on sexual harassment, sexual assault and self-defense.

Campus officials said they hope their efforts will prevent students from getting into compromising situations.

But officials also want to reach the victims of sexual assault who are too afraid to report the crimes.

Director of Social Services Paula Flamm said she learns of one sexual assault case a week on average, but only a fraction of those cases are ever officially reported.

Only 5 percent of reports ever reach the ears of police or officials, according to the Department of Justice.

Flamm said victims had many reasons for staying silent, including a desire to put the incident behind them.

Campus officials hope the reason behind the recent rise of reported rapes and sexual assaults is not an increase in incidents, but the success of their outreach efforts.

UC Increases Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment

Following last year’s scandal over the resignation of a dean after sexual harassment allegations, UC Berkeley officials are stepping up efforts to address some of the more sordid possible problems of workplace relationships.

The new program requires all faculty, staff and graduate student instructors to undergo training to increase sensitivity to sexual harassment.

“All the training and prevention efforts will help bring clarity to the policies,” said Nancy Chu, UC Berkeley’s Title IX compliance officer. “They will also let people know where they can go for help, either in reporting problems or in getting clarification for issues that reside in the gray area.”

These efforts stem from questions about the effectiveness of UC Berkeley’s sexual harassment training that surfaced over the dean’s resignation last year.

Despite UC Berkeley’s sexual harassment policies, professors said training efforts had been limited.

“I have never received any training at all. I’ve never gotten a document that contains the university’s policy,” law professor Linda Krieger, who teaches employment discrimination, told the San Francisco Chronicle in December.

John Dwyer, then dean of Boalt Hall School of Law, stepped down in December following what he called a consensual, but inappropriate “single encounter” with a student two years prior.

The student’s lawyer said Dwyer “grossly mischaracterized” the incident as consensual and alleged the campus was not in compliance with the California Education Code requiring the university to take “affirmative steps to prevent harassment.”

The training includes a basic online course, which takes about an hour to complete.

Acknowledging that “sexual harassment is common in all work places and campuses,” the test identifies obvious and egregious examples of sexual harassment and poses increasingly complex scenarios on how to deal effectively with sensitive material taught in class.

For example: A student complains about nude models that appear as screen-savers on a computer she is using for a lab. She says that men frequently make offensive remarks to her when she walks down the hall. The lab supervisor takes no action. Is this scenario sexual harassment?

The answer is yes.

The new training options also include hour-long workshops and in- person briefings led by the campus Title IX staff.

Ensuring that staff and all departments complete the program may take up to a year, Chu said. So far only a few have finished the test.

University officials acknowledged the crucial inclusion of GSIs in the program in a recent memo saying that they were “among the groups that will benefit the most” because of their “relative inexperience in the role of the instructor.”

“I think it’s a good approach,” said David Leonard, dean of International and Area Studies. “Most people will be thankful it’s an online course and can complete it at their leisure.”


Boalt Dean Quits Under Sexual Misconduct Cloud

Elana Fiske is a contributing writer and Wendy Lee is a staff writer for The Daily Californian.

The dean of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law resigned Wednesday amid allegations that he sexually harassed a former law student.

John Dwyer, who became dean in 2000, admitted to having a single consensual encounter with a student two years ago but denied charges of sexual harassment.

Dwyer, whose resignation goes into effect Jan. 1, also leaves behind his tenured faculty position.“I acknowledge that this reflected a serious error in judgment on my part and was inappropriate,” Dwyer wrote in an internal memo to the Boalt Hall community. “I believe I can no longer effectively lead the school.”

In the memo, Dwyer, 50, stressed “there is no allegation any form of sexual intercourse occurred.” He added the student involved had not taken any of his classes.

The law student filed a complaint with the university Oct. 11, according to media reports.

UC Berkeley officials initiated an investigation into Dwyer’s involvement with the former law student as soon as the allegations were brought to their attention, according to a university statement.

Campus sexual harassment policy requires complaints be filed within 90 days of an incident.

Some faculty were wary a single complaint, issued years after the admitted incident, could lead to Dwyer’s resignation.

“I hope the administration has a good explanation for this,” said UC Berkeley law professor Stephen Barnett.

A Stanford University human resources officer who wished to remain anonymous said it was strange for Dwyer to have relinquished his faculty position.

“(Tenured professors) essentially have lifetime employment if you will,” he said. “It’s unusual for them to give up their position for anything.”

Dwyer’s resignation came to many of Boalt Hall’s faculty unexpectedly, just before Thanksgiving break.

“I’m really sad and shocked by this,” said UC Berkeley law professor Charles Weisselberg.

Dwyer will be remembered as someone who was “very scrupulous about the performance of his duties,” said UC Berkeley law professor Michael Smith, who had an office next door to Dwyer’s in 1992.

Smith added Dwyer spent “a very, very great amount of time” working with students, and it was common to see a “bunch” of students in his office.

In accepting Dwyer’s resignation, Chancellor Robert Berdahl “recognized the law professor’s accomplishments as dean,” according to the university statement.

Barnett said Dwyer has done an “excellent job” recruiting new faculty and raising money for the school.

“Ironically he’s been good at trying to heal some of the gender divisions of the faculty,” Barnett added.

Before resigning, Dwyer had a highly successful career. He worked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and was a public defender for two years in Washington, D.C.

An authority on environmental law, Dwyer joined the law school’s faculty in 1984. He was the second Boalt graduate to take the position of dean.

“As a teacher he was pretty good,” said UC Berkeley law student Alex Lee. “In the classroom he seemed pretty professional.”

The university will appoint an interim dean while it searches for Dwyer’s replacement.

The UC Berkeley press office was unavailable to The Daily Californian for comment Wednesday.


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