UC Berkeley Reeling From Sexual Harassment Scandal

(Image: UC Berkeley, Creative Commons)

(Image: UC Berkeley, Creative Commons)

According to new records, eleven employees at the University of California at Berkeley have either been fired or resigned as a result of sexual harassment allegations.

Hundreds of pages of records offered additional details and extensive documentation concerning allegations of misconduct and increased the scandal currently facing the institution involving 19 employees.  The new information suggests that men holding positions of power at the school had been able to avoid discipline after complaints of harassment were received by the school from students and employees.

The new information reiterates the public university’s investigative reports and disciplinary actions for each of the cases that occurred over the last seven years. According to the documents, all of the employees who had been fired for violating sexual harassment policies were staff members, none of whom were tenured professors.

Three faculty members named in the report remain in employment at the school, according to UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Cal men’s basketball assistant coach Yann Hufnagel recently announced his resignation only a week after saying he would fight plans made by the school to fire him. He has been on paid leave since an investigation by the school stated he sexually assaulted a female reporter in 2014 and 2015. An attorney for Hufnagel said he would like his name to be cleared, but his return to the school would be unlikely, writes Connor Letourneau for The San Francisco Gate.

“The toxic environment at UC Berkeley has made it impossible for Mr. Hufnagel to rejoin the basketball team he loves, even if he is vindicated in full, as the facts would show,” Hufnagel’s lawyer, Mary McNamara, said. “He needs to look out for the student-athletes he coached, as well as his own future. Earlier this morning and after much consideration, he decided it was time to move on.”

UC Berkeley astronomer Geoffrey Marcy previously resigned as a result of reports stating that he sexually harassed students repeatedly over an entire decade.  He did not face any serious discipline from the school as a result.

Sujit Choudhry, the dean of the law school, resigned from his position last month after the university faced criticism for allowing him to keep his job after a campus investigation uncovered evidence supporting claims of sexual harassment brought on by his executive assistant.  Choudry is still a faculty member.

Meanwhile, the new documents suggest that adjunct faculty member Howard D’Abrera repeatedly sent sexually harassing emails to an undergraduate student.  One email asked the student to join him on a “dirt smoke filled weekend of unadulterated guilty pleasure and sins” adding that he would “whisper sweet nothings in your ear.”  The email continued by stating, “I should get to know you … and explore the daring [redacted] dark side of you. Bring me a shirt from your wardrobe.”

During a phone interview with Sam Levin of The Guardian, D’Abrera said he had not made any sexual advances toward the student and that the email had been taken out of context.  Since then he changed his story, saying he had not sent the email at all.  However, the report shows that during the investigation he had, in fact, confessed to writing the message.