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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Why has accused sexual predator David Lordkipanidze of Dmanisi fame been named President of the Scientific Advisory Board of a leading human evolution institute in Tarragona, Spain? [[Updated]]

David Lordkipanidze/Wikimedia Commons
Last year I reported on my six-month investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against David Lordkipanidze, director general of the Georgian National Museum and director of the excavations at Dmanisi, a famous hominin site. Those allegations have led to a widespread shunning of Lordkipanidze by the paleoanthropology community and beyond, and his invitations to speak at conferences and other events have begun drying up.

Thus I was surprised to learn in the past several days that Lordkipanidze is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the IPHES, a leading human evolution research institute in Tarragona, Spain. As the allegations concerning him are very widely known in the anthropology community, and Spanish researchers have an important presence in the Dmanisi project (including some members of IPHES) I assume that they must know about them too.

I have written to IPHES director, Robert Sala Ramos, asking why Lordkipanidze is on the board, but so far have not received a response (I have also written privately to other IPHES members I know personally, and hoping they will weigh in as well.)

As should be obvious from my report on the allegations, the evidence for them is solid. Indeed, Lordkipanidze's attorney, famed defamation lawyer L. Lin Wood, has not taken any action concerning my report despite earlier threats of a lawsuit against The Verge and Vox media, which originally assigned me to investigate. I think there is a simple reason for this: They would lose any lawsuit they might pursue, because in the United States at least the truth is a defense against a defamation action.

I hope that the IPHES will respond to my questions, and that the scientific community will take note of this situation.

Update: It appears that IPHES is not concerned about the strong evidence that Lordkipanidze is a sexual predator and has assaulted and harassed a number of women. The institute has now promoted him to president of the Scientific Advisory Board. At the same time, it appointed three women to what had previously men an all-male board. Perhaps IPHES's leaders think this somehow balances out the equation? More likely, since there is an important Spanish team working at Dmanisi, Lordkipanidze's presence on the board--and now his elevation to the top spot--represents an unfortunate and sordid payback for the right to work there. It's for IPHES leaders to tell us if that is true, and for the anthropology community to decide what should be done about this insult to female colleagues everywhere (men of good heart should be equally insulted, of course.)

1 comment:

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