A shocking email
While some researchers were taken aback by Hunter’s sudden and dramatic allegations against Hublin, other anthropologists say that he has a long reputation for inappropriate actions towards women. “There are a few titan European scientists that I’ve heard some young female scientists are terrified of,” says one leading female anthropologist based in the United States. “Hublin is one of them. He definitely has a sleaze-ball reputation, so the sexual harassment news sadly doesn’t surprise me.”
A long history of sexual misconduct?
(Hunter says that Hublin actually told her about some of these incidents, both before and after their relationship had ended. Hunter says that Hublin told her he had been able to make sexual advances to women without them reporting him, and that he would be able to keep her quiet as well.)
As for the secretary, Hublin says, she was “my personal assistant and we naturally had a close working relationship, which was certainly friendly but never romantic.” Hublin adds that the secretary still comes to see him when she visits Leipzig. “The last such visit was in March 2017,” Hublin says, “at which time we had a cordial conversation in my office.”
Dian Hunter is pregnant
Afterthought Jan 14, 2019: I'd like to amplify on something that is implicit in this story but needs to be made explicit. Since a German court on May 10, 2017 granted Hublin an injunction against "Dian Hunter" prohibiting her from writing or talking publicly about their personal relationship, Hublin himself has been unrestrained in making negative comments about her and giving his own version of the story both publicly (in his quotes in this story) and privately. Over time, as I know from conversations with many colleagues in the anthropology community, Hublin's side of the story has become the dominant narrative in the minds of many who know about it (especially men.) On the other hand, women who know Hublin or know his reputation have been more receptive to the possibility that there was more to this than Hublin was letting on. Hublin has been aided in his attempts to spread his narrative by two colleagues in particular: Philipp Gunz, a physical anthropologist at the MPI in Leipzig; and Bernard Wood, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University. Ironically, Wood was regarded by many as a hero in the Brian Richmond story, which he did much at the time to help expose, and Wood wrote a number of opinion pieces about the need to fight against sexual harassment in the sciences and society at large. In my own view, both Hublin and Hunter have the right to tell their stories; this article redresses the fact that Hunter alone has been prohibited from doing so all this time.
More thoughts, Jan 17, 2019: Just in case anyone is wondering: I have known Jean-Jacques Hublin for about 20 years, and wrote about his work from time to time in Science magazine--including a major feature entitled "Was North Africa the Launch Pad for Modern Human Migrations?" (The link provided is behind a paywall, but if you Google the title and my name you will find a pdf at a link by Springer.) He often provided comment for my Science stories about human evolution, and I saw him occasionally at meetings. He is an important and talented scientist who has made major contributions both in terms of direct research as well as developing influential concepts. But I did hear about his harassment of women when I was working on the #MeToo story about human origins curator Brian Richmond at the American Museum of Natural History; thus it did not come as a complete surprise to me (nor to many others I talked to at the time) when "Dian Hunter" first made her allegations.
Update, Jan 18, 2019: As is often the case with a story of this length, there was a great deal I had to leave out, especially as we were preparing the text for publication in The Verge. As readers will note, a central issue in this story is whether the relationship between Jean-Jacques Hublin and "Dian Hunter" was simply a consensual extramarital affair gone bad, of whether there was misconduct involved on the part of Hublin (Hunter clearly states that she did things in the aftermath of the breakup that she now regrets.) As part of that reporting, I asked the officers of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution (ESHE, of which I am a member, and of which Hublin is president) to comment on the appropriateness of their president apparently pursuing a student during a meeting of the organization and initiating a relationship with her. I did not include their response in the original story, but am including it here. The following email, dated June 29, 2017, comes from Wil Roebroeks, an archaeologist at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands and currently Vice President of ESHE. Note that the organization did not take a position on this particular case--they would not be expected to under the circumstances--but that could possibly change now that the full story has been published.
On behalf of the board officers you addressed, allow me to answer your questions.
Yes, ESHE has a statement affirming our commitment to ensuring a safe and open meeting and our intolerance of sexual harassment in any form (http://www.eshe.eu/
Tanya Smith of Griffith University in Australia, a former colleague of Hublin's who was the subject of severe bullying by him and whose career he (unsuccessfully) tried to wreck, has now written at length about her experiences in a blog post entitled "Anthropology Has a Bullying Problem Too." An important read.