113 Sexual Harassment Cases Reported in the University of California System in 3 Years

By Haire, Chris; Puente, Kelly et al. | Pasadena Star-News, March 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

113 Sexual Harassment Cases Reported in the University of California System in 3 Years


Haire, Chris, Puente, Kelly, Kopetman, Roxana, Pasadena Star-News


At UC Irvine, one employee left sex toys in another employee’s work area.

He was fired.

At UC Riverside, a supervisor repeatedly stuck his face into a co-worker’s neck to smell her perfume.

He was suspended for two days.

At UCLA, a married French professor professed his love to a graduate student and wrote her hundreds of poems.

He resigned but was granted emeritus status on condition he not teach again.

These and other reports of sexual harassment at four University of California schools in the Los Angeles and San Diego region were included among 113 cases released this month by the University of California system. Overall, the documents cover a three-year period, from Jan. 1, 2013, to April 6, 2016, in which employees in the 10-campus system were found to have violated the system’s sexual violence and sexual harassment policies for that period.

The 52 allegations at the Southern California schools ranged from inappropriate sexual innuendos to unwanted touching to sexual assault.

Accusers included students and cafeteria workers, subordinates and co-workers; nurses and even a child patient. Offenders ranged from custodians to professors to a UC Irvine dean.

The documents, gathered through a public records request by the Bay Area News Group and other media, offer an unprecedented but limited glimpse at sexual harassment claims and how they are investigated in one of the most prestigious university systems in the country. The heavily redacted paperwork reflects only completed investigations involving University of California employees, so open investigations and student-on-student accusations weren’t included.

Some critics and observers say punishments meted out in the cases that were made public reveal power dynamics unique to academia, with rock star faculty — who bring in money and prestige — receiving different treatment than lower-tier workers. Officials who track harassment claims for the system deny that any double-standard exists.

As much as anything, the documents and interviews with more than a dozen experts reveal an evolving approach to investigating complaints.

In 2015, the University of California came under fire after high-profile sexual harassment allegations at UC Berkeley, including a case involving a law school dean.

Since January of last year, the system has beefed up its efforts to prevent, investigate and adjudicate sexual violence and harassment through a new systemwide policy prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Faculty, staff and students within the UC system now are required to undergo annual sexual harassment prevention training. Support services for victims have been expanded. The UC system streamlined how it responds to harassment claims, using a team-based approach that includes investigators, a sworn police officer and a Title IX compliance officer at each school. And UC created a systemwide office to oversee UC campuses on the issue and assure a uniformed approach to how complaints are processed.

The system last year set a 60-day deadline to complete investigations. It also now provides complainants and the accused of copies of investigation reports and tells both parties about any outcome, including discipline. And by this summer, every school will create a peer review committee to advise on cases involving faculty, somewhat similar to another systemwide peer review committee created last year to review and discipline its most senior staff members, like a chancellor.

“Every case is significant,” said Claire Doan, a UC spokeswoman. “We strive to be fair and to be timely and transparent in dealing with these cases, and to impose discipline that matches the seriousness of the behavior.”

The documents don’t show if sexual harassment is or isn’t particularly rampant within University of California system.

About 200,000 people work at the 10 UC campuses, making the University of California system the state’s third-biggest employer. …

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