UC Berkeley Defends Handling Of Astronomer’s Sexual Harassment Charges

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The University of California at Berkeley defended its handling of sexual harassment complaints against a prominent astronomer amid accusations on campus and beyond that the professor was inadequately disciplined for inappropriate behavior with students.

The university has not shared details of the six-month investigation of Professor Geoffrey Marcy that concluded in June when he was found to have violated campus sex harassment policies. It resulted from complaints brought by former students and dealt with incidents dating as far back as 2001, campus officials said.

Marcy issued a public apology last week while at the same time disputing some of the allegations against him.

After the probe and the nature of the complaints first were reported by BuzzFeed News on Friday, UC Berkeley said Marcy had agreed to clear parameters around his behavior with the knowledge he would be subject to automatic suspension or dismissal for any violations.

In a follow-up statement issued Monday, the school described the agreement Marcy reached with Vice Provost for Faculty Janet Broughton as “the most certain and effective option for preventing any inappropriate future conduct” because it bypassed a lengthy disciplinary process that would have required a hearing before a faculty committee.

“The university has imposed real consequences on Professor Geoff Marcy by establishing a zero tolerance policy regarding future behavior and by stripping him of the procedural protections that all other faculty members enjoy,” the statement said.

The revelation that one of the world’s leading experts on planets outside Earth’s solar system had not been sanctioned more severely has angered some of Marcy’s colleagues and former students, including one of the four women students who filed complaints about him with the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination last year.

“His job as a professor is to mentor and provide guidance to young people; in —> Read More