Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The truth at last, or at least some of it, about Peter Rathjen, the U of Adelaide, the U of Melbourne, the U of Tasmania, etc. [Updated Sept 3, 2020: University of Melbourne "leader" finally speaks]

Peter Rathjen, former VC and president, U Adelaide
It may take a long time for the mighty to fall, but more and more often these days, they eventually do.

Such is the fate of Australian scientist Peter Rathjen, immediate past Vice-Chancellor and president of the University of Adelaide. Today in Australia, Bruce Lander, an Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, released a statement about his investigation of Rathjen, who has a long history of sexual misconduct.

The statement, a brief summary of a much longer report that is being kept secret, outlines Rathjen's latest abuses, which included the sexual harassment (including unwanted sexual touching) of two women employed by the University of Adelaide. Lander found that their allegations of harassment (or perhaps more properly, assault) after a university function in April 2019 were true. Lander also found that Rathjen lied both to him and the university's Chancellor about a number of matters related to his past misconduct.

I was gratified to see (pp. 5-6 and 8 of Lander's statement) that the inquiry included questions about prior misconduct that I had previously published on this blog. My first mention of allegations against Rathjen were very brief, part of a much longer report in July 2019 on bullying and sexual harassment by the former director of the University of Adelaide's ancient DNA lab, Alan Cooper. More recently, I expanded on those allegations, in a blog post last May. When confronted with these allegations, Rathjen lied about them several times, as Lander reports.

The report also confirms one of the most serious allegations against Rathjen, that he sexually assaulted a student while science dean at the University of Melbourne. I had originally withheld the name of the university involved at the request of a colleague of the victim of that attack, but since it is now public--and widely reported in the Australian media--there is no longer any point in doing so. This also raises serious questions about whether multiple institutions in Australia "passed the harasser" despite their knowledge of Rathjen's misconduct, thus allowing him to undeservedly climb to the summits of academia.

Indeed, there are already signs of damage control across Australian universities. Here, for example, is a message sent by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania on the heels of the ICAC report. Note that  Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black states that an investigation at UTAS found no evidence that Rathjen had committed sexual harassment or sexual assault while there. He didn't need to, however. As I reported, while Vice-Chancellor at UTAS,  Rathjen protected a convicted pedophile from being kicked off campus even after he had re-offended, and despite a campaign led by #MeToo activist Nina Funnell and others to get the university to do the right thing.

From: Professor Rufus Black <listserv@UTAS.EDU.AU>
Subject: Peter Rathjen ICAC report released | We stand ready to support our community
Date: 26 August 2020 at 9:33:56 am GMT+2

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Professor Rufus Black

Dear Colleagues,
The South Australian Independent Commission Against Corruption has today released a statement regarding its investigation into the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of our University, Professor Peter Rathjen.

The statement upholds that Peter Rathjen engaged in conduct which was both unwanted and unwelcome with two women, and that he subsequently lied to try to protect his position.

We believe the accounts contained in the ICAC statement, including its information that there was a complaint regarding Peter Rathjen’s conduct during his time at the University of Melbourne prior to coming to our University.

When ICAC made public its investigation into Peter Rathjen’s behaviour, despite it not involving our University, we undertook our own investigation and to date have determined that there was no known evidence of sexual harassment or sexual assault involving Professor Peter Rathjen during his tenure at the University of Tasmania.

Today I want to assure you that there is no tolerance at our University for sexual harassment or sexual assault. If there are unreported, undetected issues in Tasmania, we are ready to support anyone with experiences they want to share, knowing how difficult it can be to come forward.

If staff or students want to share experiences related to Peter Rathjen’s time as Vice-Chancellor, we ask that they make contact with Chief People Officer Jill Bye at

While details of the ICAC report relate to things that happened elsewhere, for many, especially those who worked with Peter Rathjen, they may feel all too close to home.

If so, general support and counselling is available to University staff and students if they need support relating to news of the ICAC report. Staff should phone 1800 650 204 and students should phone 1800 817 675.

We are ready to support our community through an episode that will be challenging and confronting for many.

Not only have we no tolerance for sexual harassment or assault, as a community we look to a future where our culture is consistently inclusive, equitable and supported by the strength that diversity brings.

Professor Rufus Black,
Professor Rufus Black
Office of the Vice-Chancellor
University of Tasmania
Private Bag 51, Hobart, TAS, 7001
T: +61 3 6226 2003

Black's letter is typical, and will be typical going forward, of attempts by university administrators to jump clear of the Rathjen scandal and claim that they either did nor know or took action as soon as they did know. And they will point to the fact that Rathjen (and  thus perhaps his victims) finally got justice as proof that the system works. Actually, it does not work very often, as the failure of the University of Melbourne to alert the academic community about Rathjen's crimes indicates.

At the University of Adelaide, for example, officials continue to look the other way despite clear abuses in the School of Education and the dental school, situations on which I have also reported (see the long, long  list of  comments on this blog post for details about the dental school and allegations of bullying, mismanagement, and  abuse.)

I'd like to end on a personal note, one which I find amusing, as serious as it is. As readers of this blog know, I have been sued for defamation by University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin, whose misconduct I have reported on extensively. As part of the "evidence" that I falsely accuse academics of being sexual predators and the like, Kurin includes a number of examples. One of them, mentioned in section 44 of her Amended Complaint, is none other than that of Peter Rathjen.

Update August 27:  Elise Worthington and  Conor Duffy of Australia's ABC have more today on the University of Melbourne investigation, which Rathjen lied about when asked, according to the ICAC statement. Serious sexual misconduct is a euphemism here for sexual assault.

Update August 28: Adelaide bully and enabler express their concerns about the ICAC report and Rathjen. 

As usually happens when an institution suddenly faces a public scandal, its leaders have issued statements to the rank and file expressing their concerns and assuring everyone that they are there to listen. The first of these comes from Faye McCallum, head of the School of Education, whose own history of bullying I reported on earlier; the second from Mike Brooks, who has been appointed interim Vice-Chancellor and President to replace Rathjen, and who earlier (as Deputy VC for Research) was a key enabler of Alan Cooper, ancient DNA director at Adelaide fired for bullying students and postdocs.

Note that McCallum says everything is going to calm down and advises staff not to talk to the media. Only when staff started talking to the media did anything start to change.

From: Vice Chancellor <>
Subject: [Alluniversity] ICAC Findings

Dear Colleagues

Earlier this week the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) issued a public statement and findings following his inquiry into allegations of improper conduct by the University’s former Vice-Chancellor, Peter Rathjen.  Professor Rathjen was found guilty of serious misconduct under the ICAC Act.

ICAC made no findings of maladministration or misconduct about any person other than the former Vice-Chancellor.

Findings about the former Vice-Chancellor are deeply shocking. I acknowledge the distress caused to the victims impacted by the behaviour of the former Vice-Chancellor.

This news will have been profoundly disturbing to staff and students as well as members of our wider community.

As our Chancellor, Ms Catherine Branson AC QC, has repeatedly stated, the former Vice-Chancellor’s conduct is unacceptable. It is grossly at odds with the values, conduct and behaviour expected of any staff member. The University is fortunate to have had the benefit of the Chancellor’s exemplary leadership over the period of the ICAC inquiry.

All of the recommendations made by ICAC to improve or clarify our policies and procedures have been accepted in full.

I strongly encourage any staff or students who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment to come forward and report it  You will have the University’s full support.

Along with the senior leadership, I am personally committed to fostering a culture and environment in which staff and students can thrive and feel safe, valued and welcome. All members of our community deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and collegiality.

Kind regards

Professor Mike Brooks FTSE FACS
Interim Vice-Chancellor and President
The University of Adelaide | Adelaide SA 5005

Update August 30: There has been a huge amount of media coverage in Australia about Rathjen's final downfall, which I have not been posting here because I assume that readers in Australia at least are seeing much of it (and a frustrating amount of it is behind firewalls, meaning I can't read a lot of it myself.) But I did want to link to this very good piece in The Guardian by Tory Shepherd. Tory was one of the first journalists to begin reporting on the rot inside the University of Adelaide (aside from me, of course) back when I was reporting on the many abuses of former ancient DNA director Alan Cooper. She also was very good about crediting the work of the reporter who broke the Cooper story, something that both Science and Nature refused to do in their own coverage of the firing of one of ancient DNA's leading pioneers. 

As I have said many times, the most important reason to credit the previous work of other journalists is not professional courtesy--although journalistic ethics actually requires it--but to put readers in the picture about how particular stories came about. In the Cooper case, for example, it was important for readers to know that former members of his lab had approached a reporter and told their stories, and that only then had the university begun its own investigation. By not mentioning this, Science, Nature, and any other publication that failed to cite the previous reporting gave readers the false impression that the University of Adelaide had simply begun the investigation because it was concerned about protecting its staff--rather than the truth, which is that Adelaide was concerned about protecting its reputation.

In the case of Peter Rathjen, fortunately, the  ICAC statement specifically referred to my previous reporting (pp. 5-6) and the role it played in the investigation, which makes it (more) difficult for media accounts to ignore it.

In Tory Shepherd's case, as I say above, she was always good about not only professional courtesy but also providing that essential context for readers. In her Guardian piece, Tory points out that Rathjen's reputation for sleaziness was long known:

"But to many in South Australia’s academic world, the finding was hardly surprising.
Rumours about Peter Rathjen’s conduct have been swirling for years. After his appointment in 2018, he became a well-known mover and shaker in Adelaide, a deal-maker. He was media savvy, often described as charming. In private, he was often described to Guardian Australia as sleazy."
"The incident has prompted obvious disgust at Rathjen’s behaviour but also questions about the university’s handling of the complaints, about its culture and about its payout to Rathjen.
“The number of people expressing a total lack of surprise at this finding is absolutely damning,” prominent University of New South Wales academic Darren Saunders tweeted.
“The number of people in power who ignored the ‘rumours’, particularly those who were still in Adelaide when he returned … or those he knew in other places and didn’t say or do anything … if people who have the power and authority to make change don’t, who will?” former University of Adelaide postdoctoral fellow Hannah Brown replied."

The fall of Rathjen is a promising sign that a combination of action by fed up colleagues on the inside of the corrupt system, monitored and reported by journalists, can begin to lead to changes. There are a LOT of other well known sexual predators and bullies out there still, and I would to think that their days are numbered--along with those of the hierarchical, inhumane system that put them there and still allows them to thrive.

Update August 31, 2020: Protests at University of Adelaide.

From The Advertiser:

Adelaide Uni students protest, demand review
into Peter Rathjen’s time at Adelaide Uni after
ICAC finding

Chris Russell, The Advertiser
August 31, 2020 5:10pm
Subscriber only

The culture at Adelaide University that allowed former vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen to run the institution – even while under investigation for misconduct – must change, student leaders said on Monday.

Calling for a review into Prof Rathjen’s tenure, about 100 students and staff attended a protest on the university campus on Monday.

“We need to make sure decisions have not been influenced by the vice-chancellor’s inability to understand sexual consent,” student union board member Arabella Wauchope said.

The protest was called following the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander finding Prof Rathjen committed “serious misconduct” by groping two women staff members during a work trip to Sydney in April 2019.

Prof Rathjen also lied about his behaviour.

Stella Salvemini, president of the Women’s Collective, which organised
the protest, said students were upset they were kept in the dark about the investigation for so long.

“We hope the new Chancellor, Catherine Branson, will involve student
representatives in what the university does going forward,” she said.

“We have faith in her because of her background as a former head of the Australian Human Rights Commission. “We expect her to do a good job in cleaning up the culture.”

SRC women’s officer Rebecca Etienne said students had been angry and distressed by the ICAC report.

Ms Branson has pledged to adopt all recommendations made by Mr Lander to improve governance and policies aimed at eliminating sexual harassment but has not demanded Prof Rathjen repay his settlement payout.

However, Sharna Bremner, from a group called End Rape On Campus, said the university had previously promised to follow a very similar set of recommendations made in 2017 by the Human Rights Commission.

The university had self-reported it met those earlier pledges.

The Women’s Collective will present a petition to the university administration.

Pictured (image not available): University of Adelaide Women's Collective
president Stella Salvemini with fellow student leaders
Rebecca Etienne and Arabella Wauchope.

And from the Adelaide Women's Collective (with apologies for the poor quality image:)

Update September 3, 2010: A letter from the University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor

It took some time, but the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Duncan Maskell, finally got around to making a statement about the Peter Rathjen affair--although with extreme delicacy. Peter Rathjen is a "former senior leader from this University," and what was clearly referred to as serious sexual misconduct in the Lander statement is now "an incident that occurred." Here is the statement, comment afterwards:

A statement far more to the point was made earlier by the president of the University of Melbourne Student Union and others:

Statement on sexual harassment conducted by Professor Peter Rathjen — 28 August 2020

Hannah Buchan, UMSU President

Aria Sunga and Naomi Smith, Officer Bearers UMSU Women’s Department 

CW: Sexual Assault and Harassment


The UMSU Womenʻs Department is disgusted to hear of the sexual harassment committed by Peter Rathjen, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide. We condemn the University of Melbourne’s complicity in allowing a perpetrator of sexual harm to continue work in the University sector.

Yesterday, the South Australian Independent Commision Against Corruption (ICAC) announced that it found that Professor Peter Rathjen, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, had committed serious misconduct by sexually harassing two colleagues in 2019. An ABC investigation has found that a former employer of the Rahtjen, the University of Melbourne, was aware of previous cases where Rathjen had harassed people and yet they failed to inform the University of Adelaide.

Professor Rathjen was employed at the University of Melbourne from 2006 to 2011. And it was during this time that a former student alleged he committed serious sexual misconduct while he was the Dean of Science between 2006 to 2008.

The student reported this case to the University of Melbourne in May of 2018 and the University upheld the misconduct complaint. Despite upholding the misconduct complaint the University failed to refer the new findings to the University of Adelaide – where Professor Rathjen was Vice-Chancellor. Their failure to refer to these findings enabled Rathjen to continue to offend at another University campus.

This is not the first case that has been in the media this year where the University reveals its negligence and complicitness in its responses to cases of sexual assault and harassment. It is time the University or Melbourne owned up and took responsibility for sexual assault and a harassment that occurs within the University community. The University again is showing its true colours where it upholds perpetrators in power rather than survivors. We are deeply concerned with the clearly consistent amateur approach that the University takes with responding to sexual assault and harassment. The University must do better.

UMSU also unequivocally stands with survivors – we hear you, we believe you, and we support you.

We call on the University to:

  • To adequately respond to the allegations that they failed to inform the University of Adelaide of the misconduct findings against Rathjen.
  • To release appropriately anonymised data on the outcomes of their sexual harassment misconduct cases.
  • To appoint external investigators, with appropriate sexual assault and harassment sensitivity training, for all sexual assault and harassment misconduct cases.
  • To increase funding and resources to the Safer Community program and ensure all itʻs processes are independent from the University.

In the coming days we will be penning an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maksell, asking him to respond to our demands, and also creating a petition to collect student signatures in support of this letter. We will not rest until the University takes responsibility for their complicity and makes substantial institutional changes.

Find the ABC article here:

If this has brought up any issues or concerns for you, we encourage you to contact the following services:

Centre Against Sexual Assault House

Phone 24 Hour hotline:  03 9635 3610

1800 Respect:

Phone: 1800 737 732, Interpreter: 13 14 50

UMSU Sexual Harm and Response Coordinator; Dr. Patrick Tidmarsh:

Unimelb Safer Communities:

Phone: 9035 8675

I will let a current professor from the University of Melbourne, who asked not to be identified, comment on the Maskell letter:

"These are fine sentiments. However, those who protected Rathjen in the interests of protecting their institutional reputations are now scrambling to dissociate themselves from him. You can read here that Duncan Maskell joined the university in January 2019. He quotes himself from that time, where he states that he has zero tolerance for sexual harassment. That was well before Rathjen was found 'guilty' of sexual assault. Despite Maskell’s strong words, no public announcement was made, and the universities of Adelaide and Tasmania were not informed. Maskell himself 'passed the harasser'. This on the pretext of protecting the victim. Of course, there was no necessity to name the victim or even the details of the sexual assault. Conveniently, this meant there were no consequences for Rathjen, as he was a former employee and not subject to sanction, and no reputational damage to the University of Melbourne from it becoming known that senior academics there sexually assault postgraduate students."

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Did Peruvian archaeologist and former culture minister Luis Jaime Castillo Butters try to shake down Yale University for an honorary PhD?

Peru's glorious Machu Picchu      WikiMedia Commons/Pedro Szekely

Late last June, I first reported on a litany of misconduct allegations against Peruvian archaeologist Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, including sexual harassment, sleeping with students, bully, retaliation, and related behavior. Castillo is a professor of archaeology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), which is currently investigating the charges in various ways.

No sooner had I published my report than Castillo's defenders and enablers--of which there are many, including at his PUCP power base and elsewhere--began attacking me and my reporting. More importantly, however, these dishonest attacks were also targeted at Castillo's victims, who have been portrayed as liars on social media and in the self-satisfied whisper network that Castillo's friends (and would-be friends, because he is really loyal to no one but himself) keep churning in the most cowardly way possible. They do not have the courage to distance themselves from Castillo because they owe him their careers in many cases.

That led some of the survivors to write an open letter in July, pointing out that they and their bad experiences were real, and that those who would try to defend Castillo had their own very self-centered reasons for doing so. As they put it at the time:

"We came forward for multiple reasonsbecause it is time, or because the pain you caused began to heal, or because we built an international network of support. All of us, however, are driven by our ethical responsibility to protect those who may unknowingly cross your destructive path. We fight to prevent you from further harming students and colleagues. It is time to put an end to your abuse. It is time to dismantle the architecture of impunity that has enabled and facilitated your rise to power. Enough is enough."

Over the weeks since I last wrote about Castillo, a number of colleagues have approached me with stories and examples of corruption on  Castillo's part, almost all involving playing fast and loose with Peru's priceless culture and archaeology. Castillo has served as both vice-minister of culture (August 2013 to April 2015) and also minister of culture (for a brief period last year.) Although some of the allegations of corruption would require considerable investigative reporting to unravel--and must be regarded as allegations only at this time--they are no doubt best left to some enterprising Peruvian reporters rather than a North American journalist.

However, one accusation did involve a U.S. institution, Yale University, and I found it relatively straightforward to report on. While Castillo was still vice-minister of culture, I was told, he was involved in the final arrangements between Peru and Yale to inventory the artifacts and human remains from Machu Picchu that Peru had fought hard to get repatriated. This inventory was essential to settling a lawsuit Peru had filed against Yale which led to their return. Castillo, I was told, tried to convince Yale to give him an honorary PhD as the price for signing off on these final details.

A fight for Peru's heritage.

The citadel of Machu Picchu, 2500 meters above sea level in mountains not far from today's city of Cusco, was built in the 15th Century by the Inka. But beginning in 1526, when the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzarro and his men first encountered the Inka, the Empire's days were numbered. By 1572 the Inka were completely defeated by the Spanish, and Machu Picchu was left abandoned to the voracious growth of the surrounding jungle. 

There are a few reports of archaeologists and plunderers coming across the citadel over the centuries. But the real "discovery" of the site by Western archaeologists dates from 1911, when Hiram Bingham, a historian at Yale, conducted the first of three excavation campaigns at Machu Picchu, with the support of Yale and the National Geographic Society--and the authorization of the Peruvian government of the time. (See this article for a brief history of the excavations and a detailed history of the legal issues and history.)

Between 1911 and 1916, Bingham shipped thousands of artifacts and human remains to Yale's Peabody Museum, including mummies and other bones, jewelry, and pottery. But beginning in 1918, the Peruvian government began demanding the return of the artifacts. A key issue was whether the artifacts had been loaned to Yale or if the university had taken full ownership of them, a not uncommon dispute given the kind of callous plundering of national treasures Western archaeologists and governments were inclined to carry out whenever they could get away with it (think of the Parthenon marbles and so many other examples.)

The dispute lingered for decades, until 2001, when the Peruvian government made a serious attempt to convince both Yale and the NGS to return the artifacts. Yale resisted for a number of additional years, but did reach a tentative agreement with Peru in 2007; when that fell through, Peru filed suit against Yale, in 2008.

After a series of legal maneuvers over the next two years, the two sides reached an agreement  in November 2010, with the help of the U.S. Senator from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd. The agreement required that an inventory be carried out, but that Yale would return everything to Peru. And in 2011, Yale and Peru agreed to partner up to create a museum and research center in Cusco devoted to the study of Machu Picchu and the Inca culture.

Vice-Minister of Culture Luis Jaime Castillo Butters asks for a piece of the action.

In November 2012, the last of the artifacts taken from Machu Picchu by Bingham were flown to Cusco, including some 35,000 pottery fragments. This third and final batch of artifacts, packed into 127 boxes, completed the repatriation. But there was still more to do.

For one thing, according to sources familiar with the details, the Ministry of Culture had to sign off on the full return of the artifacts, so that the Foreign Affairs Ministry could in turn notify the U.S. District judge in the case that the agreement between the parties had been fully met. Only then would the judge ratify the settlement and end the case.

But before the Ministry of Culture would sign off, sources say, Yale had to negotiate with the ministry about a number of details concerning the collection--including finalizing the inventories of artifacts and also whether or not certain faunal (animal) specimens should be included. These discussions, which stretched into 2013, involved on Yale's side Richard Burger, the university's leading Machu Picchu expert; and on the Peruvian side, then vice-minister for culture, Luis Jaime Castillo Butters.

While the negotiations over these issues were going on--they reportedly dragged over a number of months--Burger began to tell friends and colleagues that Castillo was asking Yale to give him a honorary PhD. I am told that Burger took this request very seriously at the time, and also that Castillo was actively in search of such degrees, even though he had received his real PhD from UCLA in 2012.

"He had been looking for honorary degrees for a long time," says one Peruvian official.

Although Burger declines to discuss many details of the episode on the record, he did confirm to me that Castillo had made the request, although he now says that he did not take it seriously--despite what he told colleagues back in 2013.

"I did not think of Castillo's remark about an honorary degree as a serious request," Burger told me last month, "nor did I treat it seriously. This is not something that Yale would have considered. It was not pursued."

I have seen no evidence that Yale did consider it seriously. But given what Burger told his colleagues, it seems quite likely that Castillo did mean it seriously.  But even if he really was joking, some archaeologists say, that does not make it any better.

"As Vice-Minister of Culture of Peru, Luis Jaime Castillo Butters should comport himself like an  honorable representative of his country and serious protector of Peru's cultural patrimony," one archaeologist who works in Peru commented. "Even a 'joke' can be construed as a mafia-like request for favors. But given [Castillo's] reputation as a bully and one who does quid pro quo to cement his power, this was certainly not a joke."

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Can science stop sexual harassment in higher education? A review of the latest contribution from Kate Clancy and her colleagues

Kate Clancy, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
For a number of years now, anthropologist Kathryn Clancy of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues have made major contributions to our understanding of sexual misconduct in academia, particularly in the sciences. The most important contribution, in my view, is the rigorous research they have done into the prevalence and context for harassment and other forms of misconduct, beginning especially with the Survey of Academic Field Experiences ("SAFE study") published in PLOSOne in 2014. This study, based on 666 anonymous responses to a survey, found that nearly two-thirds of  respondents had personally experienced sexual harassment of one kind or another.

These results were a shock to many researchers, especially in archaeology and anthropology, fields which utilize field work as a major tool for their research. Since then, Clancy and her colleagues have published a number of other studies, and Clancy has become well known for her #MeToo advocacy, including Congressional testimony and many media interviews. (Full disclosure: Although Clancy and I have some serious and ongoing personal and professional disagreements, I have always acknowledged the key role she has played in an area in which we are both very active.)

I am not exactly an academic, but rather a science journalist. Nevertheless I have spent many decades in academia as a student,  researcher, and journalism teacher. And this month, August  2020, marks five years as a #MeToo reporter, in which I have investigated and reported many cases in anthropology, archaeology, and other fields. During that time I have watched the evolution of the #MeToo and #MeTooSTEM movements, and tried to monitor their progress. My conclusion is that so far there has been very little, despite some good intentions and a proliferation of formal guidelines designed to show potential abusers where to draw the line.

I'd like to discuss some of my conclusions in the context of the latest contribution to the #MeToo literature, an opinion piece published this past week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Clancy, along with  Lilia Cortina and Anne Kirkland of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The article is entitled "Use science to stop sexual harassment in higher education." In my discussion of it, I will draw from a number of case studies based on my own reporting, which includes nearly two dozen full fledged investigations of alleged sexual harassment, assault, bullying, and retaliation in the sciences. (In addition to those, I have engaged in another 20 or so "mini-investigations," in which the victims and survivors of abuse talked to me credibly enough that I was able to report these cases on social media.)

"Sexual harasssment abounds in academia." -- "Not just about sex."

 The first phrase quoted above is the first sentence of the Clancy et al. paper, and the second phrase is the title of the opinion piece's first section. As they have before, Clancy and her colleagues provide the evidence for the ubiquity of sexual harassment, and the wide variety of forms it takes, which are usually less about sexual gratification than about power relationships in academia. Most abusers are men, a fact well established by the research of Clancy and others, and most targets are women; but the harassment often seems more about senior researchers keeping women in their place than about actually engaging in sexual relationships with female students, although that does happen--and more often than many might realize.

Clancy et al. go on to discuss how institutions can "disincentivize" the contemptuous and disrespectful conduct towards women that is really at the heart of sexual harassment. In one key passage, they suggest ways this could be done:

"To determine  whether their department is part of the problem, leaders can ask: 

Do job candidates have to run a gauntlet of abuse to show their worth? 
Are speakers constantly interrupted and 'piled on' during their seminars? 
Do faculty members malign students or mistreat staff? 
Are wrongdoers widely known but never confronted by leadership? 
Is there a star culture, where some people are allowed to behave badly because theyre so brilliant,       so famous, or bring in so many grant dollars?"

Interestingly, the first three of these questions deal with various common kinds of harassment, while the last  two shift to more fundamental questions of whether the institutions involved are motivated to ignore or tolerate misconduct they are actually aware of (or are made aware of by persistent complaints from the students who are most often the victims of the harassment.)

The case studies below suggest not only that institutions are NOT really motivated to stop harassment, but that only a minority of brave senior, tenured faculty members are really motivated to either. And unfortunately, despite real progress in theory and understanding of sexual and gender harassment, there has been little progress so far in actual practice, that is, in putting a stop to it.

(Please click the links to go to the actual stories.) Most importantly--and I know some will disagree--very, very few #MeToo cases have been addressed and resolved without the intervention of journalists as the agents publicly exposing the misconduct. In other words, in very, very few cases has the initiative to seek justice for victims and survivors come from the institutional leadership itself; and those brave colleagues who have managed to make things public have had to approach reporters to do that, as a last resort, but often a very effective one.

Brian Richmond, former curator for human origins at the American Museum of Natural History.

This was the first case I worked on, on assignment from Science magazine beginning in the summer of 2015. Richmond had sexually assaulted a research assistant whom he supervised, and the evidence was solid and clear. Nevertheless the museum went through two superficial and not-very-serious investigations behind the scenes, slapped Richmond on the wrist, and forced the victim to continue to pass her abuser in the halls every day. After the survivor began publicly telling her colleagues what had happened to her, Science found out about it and assigned me to investigate. Only after it became clear to museum officials that we were doing a story did they begin a third, rigorous investigation, which led to Richmond's forced resignation in December 2016. There were some heroes in this story: Two anthropologists who spoke out publicly against Richmond and helped with the investigation, along with dozens of other researchers who helped my reporting behind the scenes. In a lot of ways, this was the ideal situation, but it was far from typical, as illustrated below.

Mammalogist Robert Baker and the Texas Tech biological sciences department

This investigation, which I carried out for The Verge (Vox media), began with sexual assault allegations against a graduate student who had received his MA at Texas Tech, and led to exposure of an entrenched culture of sexism and misogyny in the university's biology department. Although the worst offender was the late Robert Baker, a famous mammalogist, my reporting showed that other senior faculty in the department had their own long history of bad behavior; moreover, Baker was enabled, right up to the day he retired, in his horrible attitudes towards female students. As a result of  my reporting, the university carried out an "investgation" which "cleared" pretty much everyone involved, despite the masses of evidence. To their credit, some of the more junior faculty in the department did issue a letter of concern about their own culture, although it was not a very strong statement. Sadly, only one women in the department signed it. Indeed, one of the most frequent complaints I hear from female grad students I talk to about harassment is that all too often the women in their departments--including senior, tenured women--do not have their backs. I  will  get to that shortly.

David Lordkipanidze, director, Georgia National Museum

This was one of the most complex and difficult cases I worked on, involving a well known paleoanthropologist who threatened to sue me if I published my findings. The researcher, David Lordkipanidze, also directed one of the most important excavations into human evolution ever launched, the research project at Dmanisi. Although many colleagues, especially in North America, helped with the reporting behind the scenes and provided confidential information and details of sexual assault and harassment, no one in Georgia--where Lordkipanidze has great power--had any interest in taking him on. In fact, colleagues there lied repeatedly about what they had seen, as did researchers from Spain who have been working at Dmanisi for many years. Sadly, those Spanish colleagues put their own careers and research interests above the welfare of female students and junior colleagues who have been pursued, and reportedly continue to be pursued, by this sexual predator. More happily, Lordkipanidze is now widely shunned by the anthropology community, has been disinvited from a number of meetings he was initially invited to, although his power in Georgia appears to be undiminished.

Deanna Grimstead of Ohio State University

This is a case of complete failure by a department and a university to protect female students from sexual harassment, this time by a woman. Deanna Grimstead was subject to a Title IX and found to have engaged in the harassment alleged; but she kept her job. She may have kept it even after a second Title IX investigation, were it not that by that time the student victims had had enough and came to me for help. As in the cases above, approaching a reporter as the last resort, but it worked. Grimstead was finally--finally--forced to resign in December 2019.

Alan Cooper, director, University of Adelaide ancient DNA lab.

Last year I was approached by a leading Australian archaeologist who told me about ancient DNA pioneer Alan Cooper's merciless bullying of grad students and postdocs during the nearly 15 years he had led the Adelaide lab. A number of survivors of this abuse began to approach me  to tell their stories. It turned out the University of Adelaide had been receiving complaints about the abuses for nearly 15 years but done absolutely nothing. Only when I reported the findings of my investigation did the university begin its own inquiry, which led to Cooper's firing, also in December 2019.  Faculty and administrators did nothing all those years to put a stop to it; brave junior researchers, with the help of a reporter, were responsible for this happy ending.

Texas A and M biology department: Years of harassment and bullying.

This investigation found wrongdoing by so many members of the faculty that it was hard to find any heroes, but there were some among the faculty and students,  who again--fed up--approached a reporter to get the story out. Ironically, the department chair himself, now charged with making reforms and changing the "culture," was found to have engaged in inappropriate behavior (read: sexual harassment)  in a Title IX.

Danielle Kurin, University of California, Santa Barbara. Retaliation, enabling of sexual abuse.

Full disclosure: Kurin has sued me for $10 million for my reporting on her years of misconduct (in addition to the two links above, please look at updates Balter's Blog for the full picture of abuses, which have continued until at least very recently.)

I end with this case, which is a snapshot in real time of the kinds of choices that faculty and administrators have to make when faced with an abuser whose conduct is not only no secret, but has been investigated multiple times with clear findings. Thus Danielle Kurin, an archaeologist at UCSB, was found in a 2016 Title IX to have retaliated against students who reported sexual harassment by her partner, Peruvian archaeologist Enmanuel Gomez Choque; Gomez sexually assaulted two students at a field school in Peru Kurin directed in 2018, and after an investigation Kurin lost the sponsorship of the umbrella organization under those auspices the field school took place; Kurin was reported by at least two students, in 2014 and 2015, for severe bullying and abuse; and there is evidence that Kurin has very recently continued her abusive behavior AND is actively trying to retaliate against members of her department who have tried to protect students from falling victim to her abuses.

And where are things now? Kurin is now up for tenure, beginning next month, due to the failure of both the university and the department to put a stop to her continuing abuses over all these years. The good news is that there are fledgling efforts under way among some of her colleagues to try to do something about the situation, which means doing something to protect students, the number one priority. And yet there is widespread fear--if not abject terror--that Kurin will sue them too if they do anything to impede her tenure bid.

Here is a case where the institution has failed, and is continuing to fail, to deal with a blatant situation that should have been solved years ago.

Is there a class war between the university and senior faculty on one side and graduate students on the other?

I want to go back now to the Clancy et al. paper. The authors discuss a 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which makes a number of recommendations for addressing sexual harassment. As Clancy et al. summarize it: "To change course, the National Academies report recommends that institutions take active steps to cultivate cultures of respect." Some of these measures could include issuing explicit statements about harassment, hiring leadership coaches, follow the advice of experts to avoid hiring "toxic" people in the first place, and withhold perks from those who are abusive.

But in their next section, "No Quick Fixes," I think the authors get a fundamental point wrong. They write: "Everyone and their Associate Dean wants to find a fast fix for sexual harassment." But Clancy et al. then go on to point out that sexual harassment, along with "its related forms of racial and  gendered disrespect, are entrenched in long histories of exclusive and exploitative practices in the American higher education system."

The second point is absolutely correct, and obvious to all honest academics. But that makes the first statement highly suspect. Deans and administrators, in so many, and perhaps most, cases, DO NOT want to fix sexual harassment, not quickly or any other way. Why? Precisely because to really do so would require the kinds of dramatic changes in the institutions they run that they do not want to make and have resisted making for decades if not longer. 

What institutional leaders want, in this so-called "#MeToo Era," is the appearance of fixing the problem, without actually doing it. And I do not offer that as hyperbole. I offer it as fully demonstrated by the evidence, not only in academia but in all walks of life from Hollywood to politics to the media to journalism itself.

And, in all too many cases, senior faculty (or even middle range faculty still climbing the academic ladder) do not want to rock the boat on which they have sailed the often rough seas of academic advancement. (With apologies for the mixed metaphors, but there are so many possible ones.)

The reality, as I suggest in the title to this last section, is that when graduate students and other junior researchers try to do something about abuses that they or their colleagues have suffered, they inevitably run up against not only the administrations of their institutions, but, so unfortunately, the senior faculty whose job it should be to protect them and fight for them, side by side.

In the case studies I cite above, I give examples--exceptions, it should be made clear--of faculty who have sided with the survivors and victims of abuse. In the case of Danielle Kurin, in which I now have a personal stake, there are such brave faculty in the UCSB anthropology department, thinking hard about what they can do and how they should do it. But they are thinking about this in an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, and retaliation that the university administration has allowed to continue, even as I write.

Thus have so many senior, tenured, privileged faculty made themselves the objective enemy of the most vulnerable colleagues they should be duty bound to protect.

It takes courage to change sides and do the right thing, and it can be scary, and maybe some of your colleagues won't like you and maybe they will give a negative review to your grant proposal or your journal submission or not invite you to their faculty parties or not vote for you to be promoted. But when you make an enemy of the younger generation, you lose all rights to sympathy for your personal career goals and risks. Even worse, you lose the right to be called a truth-seeking academic, because the truth remains buried even though you know it full well.

I applaud Kate Clancy and her colleagues for continuing to provide the research and the ammunition that can allow researchers and other academics to do the right thing. The time is long past to reach out, grasp that ammunition, and load the weapons. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

UC Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin and her attorney attempt to intimidate anthropology department members who look out for students and try to stop abuses [Updated August 20, 2020, including yet another story of abusing students, this time from last year]

UCSB's Humanities and Social  Sciences Department, home of Anthropology
As the defamation suit filed against me in the Southern District of New York by University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin rages on, Kurin and her attorney, David Scher, can be counted on to do everything they can to try to intimidate not only me, but faculty, students, and other individuals who have bravely tried to deal with Kurin's long history of abuse and to prevent future victims. This morning I received the following email from Scher:

"Mr. Balter,

In par. 128 of your answer you state that a faculty member gave you a student’s personally identifying information, which enabled you to contact the student.  We believe this act by this faculty member violates FERPA and Title IX and have therefore reported this incident to UCSB’s counsel.  Counsel asked me to ask if you would provide the identity of the faculty member.  I told him that you strongly support the ferreting out and stopping of Title IX and FERPA violations and most certainly would want to cooperate.  Would you kindly provide this identity to me (to be treated confidentially) or directly to UCSB counsel?

Also, as a separate note, of course Dr. Kurin knows the student who the faculty member disclosed because Dr. Kurin recruited her. After getting your email, she became scared and ran and withdrew her fully paid scholarship admission. All other archeology candidates for that term (none of which would have worked with Dr. Kurin) also withdrew in fear. These are the careers that were destroyed as a result of your email and I thought you should know the damage that your actions caused.  


Dave Scher, Partner
Hoyer Law Group, PLLC

[The Answer to the Complaint can be found at this link]

My email response to Scher:

"Thank you for your message.

The individual you mention acted as a confidential source and thus I will not be disclosing their identity. Please inform UCSB's counsel of my position.

I consider your communication an attempt to intimidate both me and members of the UCSB anthropology department  who might cooperate with my reporting and who might wish to exercise their rights to speak either internally in the department or externally about their concerns about misconduct by Danielle Kurin or anyone else.

As for careers: Your information seems to be based entirely on what your client has told you, which is incorrect. The student who narrowly escaped working with your client, and other students who decided not to work in the UCSB anthropology department because of their concerns about  a toxic atmosphere, actually had their careers saved from the very serious damage that  your client and others like her in archaeology and anthropology have done.

Since this email goes to the issues in the litigation, it is on the record and I am  free to publish it.

Best regards,

Michael Balter"

I will go even further than I did in this email, and say that the faculty member who facilitated my contacting the student involved acted in the absolute best of intentions and with the kind of due care for the wellbeing of students that neither Kurin nor UC Santa Barbara have shown during this long saga of abuses and enabling abuse, which goes all the way back to 2013 when Kurin first started teaching at UCSB. Indeed, Kurin and her attorney are excellent practitioners of the art of DARVO ("Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender") which abusers have been using since time immemorial. This too will fail.

Update: Further response from David Scher and my response.

Mr. Balter,

I want to be very clear with you that I have no intention of intimidating or harassing you in any way. Indeed, as you have seen in other communications that have been quite cordial, we are working diligently to conduct an orderly litigation and providing you whatever information we can as a pro se litigant.

This incident is unrelated to the litigation.  We became aware of a very blatant FERPA and Title IX violation and felt we had to report it – to UCSB. We did not publish it, we did not threaten you about it – we simply reported it.  UCSB counsel (not us) asked me to ask you for the identity of the violating faculty member.  Merely asking you, on behalf of UCSB, for the identity of a faculty member who clearly violated FERPA and Title IX seemed reasonable and in fact something you would want to do.  That you have decided not to is noted and we will let UCSB counsel know.  You are, in a sense, shooting the messenger, accusing us of harassment – when in fact all we did was transmit information we thought vital to what is now an investigation into a Title IX and FERPA violation committed by a tenured professor – a violation that we know about only because you yourself wrote about it in detail in your Answer.

You might perhaps consider this.  You have accused Dr. Kurin of conspiring to violate Title IX (above and beyond the already known charges) and refusing to cooperate in a Title IX investigation.   Here are the facts as we see them:
  1. A faculty member gave you personally identifying information about a student and asked you to contact the student.
  2. You did not report the faculty member for this blatant Title IX and FERPA violation.
  3. Instead you emailed the student – in our view, invading her privacy (but that is a topic for another day).
  4. Now, in present day, you revealed how you came to this student PII – via a current UCSB faculty member - which forces us to report it to UCSB.
  5. UCSB asks us to ask you for the identity of the of the faculty as part of their investigation into the matter.
  6. You refuse to cooperate with the title IX and FERPA investigation and instead publish a blog accusing me personally of intimidating and harassing you.

This conduct, to us, is eerily similar to the conduct you are reporting over and over about regarding Dr. Kurin.  It is the pot calling the kettle black.

Since you have published my last email, which in our view is actually an abuse of the litigation process and could prejudice witnesses, we ask that you now also publish this email, so that our firm’s public stance that we are compliance with all Court rules and conducting this litigation properly is made public.  Thank you.


Dave Scher, Partner

Hoyer Law Group

Mr.  Scher,

Yes, I will publish your  email.

I  will also publish my inquiries into this matter, which  reveal  that neither  FERPA nor Title IX were  violated in this case. Please inform the UCSB counsel  of  that so this campaign  of harassment, initiated by you and your client, can cease.


Further comment: The essence of what has happened above is that the University of California, and UCSB's Counsel specifically, are collaborating with Danielle Kurin and her attorney to attempt to expose a source of my reporting. Perhaps UC is a naive and unwitting collaborator,  or perhaps this is part of the university's long effort to give Kurin a pass for her continuing misconduct, but in the end it amounts to the same thing.

And more:

Mr Scher

Since this situation does not involve either you or your client, please put the UC counsel in touch with me directly.

Scher: "My understanding is that you have already contacted UCSB counsel and have his info.  Of course you are free to contact him."

"The UCSB counsel, Nancy Hamill,  has  forwarded my Litigation Hold Orders to Michael Goldstein, UC Counsel.  Goldstein and I are disagreeing about some matters related to serving of eventual subpoenas, but we are in touch. Is Nancy or Michael the one you are talking to?"


Scher: "Yes Mr. Goldstein."

MB: "Okay, good. He should have contacted me directly about this, and not through you. You and your  clients are not disinterested parties, despite your pretense otherwise."

And still more, re discovery: 

From Scher:

"I gather you intend to subpoena UCSB employees from your email.  Please note that we object to any effort to seek to depose any UCSB employee (and/or to obtain any documents of any kind for UCSB). Indeed, we view that as an effort at intimidation and harassment – not so much of us – but of the staff and students at UCSB – and will vigorously oppose it.

Because you are a pro se litigant, for your information, you will need to prepare a subpoena, have us oppose it, and then, if you win that motion, domesticate the subpoena in the proper jurisdiction and effect service.  You are responsible for effective proper service, scheduling, ensuring the appearance of the witness, deposition costs, witness fees and your copies of any transcripts.   Our client is not responsible to produce any non-party witness and she will not do so. In accordance with the rules, please provide us in advance copies of any intended subpoena or other service document so that we may file a motion to quash with the Court."

And my response:

Yes, of course you will try to prevent testimony from witnesses who possess  information key to evaluating the allegations in your Complaint, because they have intimate knowledge of your client's misconduct and the disciplinary proceedings that have taken  place in response to it. As from the beginning, you and your client seem to think that all you have to do is file a lawsuit in order to win it. That is not how it works in the American system of justice.

And, of course, this is the judge's decision to make, not yours, and I am confident that he will allow a Defendant in a case such as this to conduct the widest possible discovery so he can defend himself properly. Thank you for the information about how to proceed.


In which Balter calls for Kurin to be placed on administrative leave for the duration of this lawsuit.


Henry T. Yang, Chancellor
David Marshall, Executive Vice Chancellor
Charles Hale, Dean of Social Sciences
Casey Walsh, Chair Dept of Anthropology
Michael Goldstein, UC Senior Counsel

Dear colleagues,

As you know, UCSB anthropology assistant professor Danielle Kurin has sued me for defamation in the Southern District of New York for my truthful and accurate reporting about her history of misconduct, including the 2016 Title IX for retaliating against students who were sexually harassed by her partner and later husband.

In the American justice system, Kurin has the right to seek relief in the  courts for any injuries she believes she has suffered, although I am vigorously denying and fighting her claims in my current status as a pro se litigant.

It is my belief, based on my reporting, that the real purpose of this lawsuit is to intimidate her anthropology colleagues, and possibly the university itself, into giving her tenure. You are no doubt aware that Kurin previously sued the university itself, although she lost that case.

Today, Kurin's attorney, David Scher, accused one of my sources of violating FERPA and Title IX, a baseless charge for which he had no evidence whatsoever (this was communicated to Mr. Goldstein who is copied here.) This accusation was aimed at a member of the faculty, and Mr. Scher and Mr. Goldstein urged me to divulge the name of  this innocent person.

It is clear to me that Dr. Kurin and her attorney  are attempting to use the university to intimidate potential witnesses in the litigation and to retaliate against them. Unfortunately, Mr. Goldstein's office seems to have fallen for that ruse.

To prevent further interference with the litigation; to prevent attempts to intimidate and retaliate against members of the UC community who might wish to give evidence or otherwise participate in this process; and to avoid UC becoming an instrument of Kurin's baseless litigation:

I call upon you to place Danielle Kurin on administrative leave until the lawsuit is resolved.

With thanks and best regards,

Michael Balter

cc. David Scher, attorney for Dr. Kurin

Update August 20, 2020: Legal discovery is a broad tool to investigate claims in a lawsuit.

I know that a lot of people are following this lawsuit and my ongoing reporting closely, as is made clear by the relatively large number of page views each day (usually more than 2000, sometimes 3000 or more.) It's obvious that Scher has tried to take advantage of the fact that I am a pro se litigant (that is, representing myself), although legal observers tell me that I am holding my own pretty well. I may well have representation very soon, however, and then any advantages that Scher has over me professionally will disappear--indeed, since he does not appear to be that great a lawyer (he has allowed his client to kick a number of own goals in this lawsuit and it's still early days) he may end up at a distinct disadvantage as more attorneys get involved on my side of the case.

I have been greatly helped by the fact that during the 1980s I worked at the ACLU of Southern California on a major lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department for spying on peaceful political groups (Congresswoman Karen Bass, then a community activist, was one of the plaintiffs.) I helped the lawyers prepare the depositions and other legal discovery requests, and helped prepare our clients for the depositions that the LAPD's lawyers took of them. I also sat in on all the depositions and advised ACLU lawyers on what questions to ask. So I learned a fair bit about civil procedure.

In his email above, Scher states that he will oppose any efforts I or my attorneys make to gather legal discovery from UCSB and/or University of California employees. He calls that "harassment," as if his client's $10 million defamation suit against me is not itself harassment, as well as a blatant attempt to intimidate survivors of sexual misconduct, bullying, and other acts that Kurin is either directly or indirectly responsible for (and for which she has been found responsible by two organizations, UCSB and the Institute for Field Research, as I have reported.)

But the simple legal truth is that courts generally allow very wide latitude in discovery efforts, and permit litigants to not only obtain documents and testimony from parties to lawsuits but also from "third parties" who might have relevant evidence. (For some basic primers on discovery,  see here and here.) But it does not take any real latitude for a court to allow discovery on issues that a litigant has directly raised in legal pleadings (such as the Complaint and Answer in Kurin v. Balter.)

For example, Kurin contends that everything was going great for her at UCSB, and nothing stood in the way of her receiving tenure, until I began reporting on her. Not only does my reporting already show that this is not true, but I have also identified key witnesses who possess knowledge and documents that will further show this is not true. In other words, rather than going on the kind of fishing expedition that Scher engaged in when he tried to out one of my sources in the UCSB anthropology  department, I will be able to engaged in targeted discovery aimed at proving that Kurin's contentions are false. And there are many of them.

So, despite Scher's bluff and bluster, I expect that we will indeed be able to obtain documents and take depositions of UCSB and UC witnesses. Indeed, such discovery is routine. Please stay tuned for updates, which are likely to come fast and furious as the case proceeds.

Update: Still abusing students after all these years.

Last week I reported on the cases of "Lara" and "Jessica," two undergraduate students who gave detailed accounts of being abused by Danielle Kurin in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Both of these students reported their experiences to faculty members and both the dean's office and/or the university Ombudsman. They both suffered trauma, and Lara left school without graduating as an eventual result of her treatment. From 2016-2019, Kurin was on administrative leave due to the Title IX findings that she had retaliated against students.

This week I Tweeted a rhetorical question: Is Danielle Kurin still abusing students?

The answer is yes, and I am going to tell here of one incident, witnessed by a number of people.

In fall 2019, right after Kurin returned to teaching after three years away, she and other faculty members were participating in a faculty meeting. I will let one of the witnesses tell the story, with some deletions to prevent them from being identified:

"[The] faculty meeting had just ended....An undergrad...was wandering the halls, and Kurin was the first person to step out of the room. The undergrad approached her asking for directions to a specific office. Kurin lost her shit. Accused the student of harassing her, told the student she was being extremely rude, etc... some of her choice phrases... 'Do you know who I am? You can't just walk up to me like this. This is extremely rude and unacceptable. I am an extremely busy person.' Her voice was raised, she was looming over the undergrad, and the undergrad was about to burst into tears. Kurin stormed off."

I want to emphasize that I have heard many such stories, going back as early as 2009, and reported on some of them. There are two very striking things here: First, that this happened right after Kurin returned to teaching after being on leave for misconduct, a clear indication that she had not learned anything or changed; and second, that while there were a number of witnesses among the faculty, most just ignored the incident. One source says that's because they realized that for Kurin this was just "par for the course."

The anthropology faculty, and the university, obviously have to decide if this is the kind of person they want to give decades of tenure to (as far as I know, there is still no mandatory retirement age in the University of California system.)