#MeToo journalist declares settlement agreement with UC Santa Barbara archaeologist accused of misconduct to be null and void [Updated Oct 23, 2021]


This past July, I settled a defamation suit against me, filed by University of California, Santa Barbara archaeologist Danielle Kurin in June 2020, as described in a blog post I published at the time. Kurin had sued me for my accurate and fully supported reporting about her history of misconduct.

Today I have sent the following notice to Kurin's attorney, David Scher of the Hoyer Law Group. The attachment referred to in this email is reproduced above.

October 20, 2021

Dear Mr. Scher,

This past weekend, your client, Danielle Kurin, blatantly violated the settlement agreement between me and her in at least two distinct ways.

Upon information and belief:

Using an anonymous account, Dr. Kurin posted, or directly caused to be posted, three comments on a long-running Reddit thread devoted to discussing allegations concerning her conduct over the past years. The link to this active thread is here:

In one comment, Dr. Kurin or her direct representative made a defamatory attack against me, which was  screenshotted and is attached to this email.

In a second comment, Dr. Kurin attacked a witness in the Kurin v. Balter litigation, a former student of hers who had made a complaint to UCSB about bullying and other abuse she alleges took place in Dr. Kurin's osteology class in 2015 (the individual known as "Lara.)

In a third comment, Dr. Kurin attacked a former fellow graduate student at Vanderbilt, and included in the attack an email between that colleague and her parents concerning a landlord-tenant dispute that took place more than a decade ago (an email that only Dr. Kurin and her family would have had possession and knowledge of.)

Later that weekend, Dr. Kurin deleted the anonymous comments, and then followed on Sunday morning with a lengthy apologia for, and supposed refutation of, her alleged conduct, under her own name, responding to allegations that appeared only on my blog and represented only my reporting.

In the ensemble of these actions, Dr. Kurin repeatedly violated terms of the legally binding agreement.

1. She wrote about me directly on social media, something expressly forbidden by the agreement.
2. She disparaged me on social media, also expressly forbidden by the agreement.
3. She responded in detail to my reporting about her, also a violation of the spirit of the agreement if not the letter.

One might have hoped that after Dr. Kurin received tenure from UCSB, she would no longer feel the need to baselessly attack me, either in the courts or on social media, especially given the enormous support my reporting received during discovery in the lawsuit. Alas, she does not seem to be able to restrain herself, even though she no longer needs to fear the damages she falsely claimed I was causing her.

Under these circumstances, and by her actions, Dr. Kurin has invalidated the agreement between us.

I therefore declare the settlement agreement to be null and void, and I will no longer be bound by it, as of the date and time of this email.

With best regards,

Michael Balter

                                                            * * * *

Before it disappears, here is the text Kurin posted on the Reddit page Sunday morning. It is full of false statements and misinformation:

User avatar
level 1

Hi Folks, lots and lots of misinformation on this thread, and lots of cruelty between commenters.

To my students: I can understand how what you read about me online would make you scared and angry. If I read such things about someone I would feel the same way. But the overwhelming majority of what you read (especially the most abhorrent stuff) is just false (or at the very least it's been decontextualized to the point of being virtually meaningless).

If you feel scared or uncomfortable, just talk to me--bring a friend if you'd like. We can also arrange to have a mediator present. I just want you to be able to fully engage and enjoy the class and feel safe in our interactions.

I don't fake being a good teacher, I am a good teacher. I lift my students up because they are hard workers and good human being who deserve compassion and support. It's not an act. My 'charm' isn't a manipulative tactic. I do hold adults accountable, and I have a strong personality, and that has been the source of some tension--and you can see that frustration in the comments.

Let me be perfectly clear. I never harassed or abused anyone, nor did I ever enable or condone such behavior by anyone.

My alleged act of retaliation? I wrote an email to a third party that was totally unrelated to allegations of misconduct, that included a line saying, "I'm sure your reputation will precede you." That's it. My letter of censure -- the most mild form of punishment available -- came after years of a flawed investigation (during which time I was on leave, as is standard). The letter was rightly expunged from my record and I was granted those years back on the tenure clock, and my funding was reinstated. I was awarded tenure, deservedly so.

Update Oct 22, 2021: There are a great number of outstanding issues related to the Danielle Kurin matters, which I plan to cover in an upcoming blog post or series of posts, as necessary. In the meantime, I have pinned a thread to my Twitter page laying out what I see as the most important questions. I hope that blog readers will navigate over to that thread and share it if they like.

Afterthoughts Oct 23, 2021: The defense that Kurin posted on Reddit, reproduced just above, suggests that she is still refusing to take responsibility for her past actions, despite the existence of so much evidence that they took place. The blog entry linked to at the beginning of this post includes the full text of the Letter of Censure, which Kurin signed in agreeing to take formal responsibility for her actions. Although the letter was removed from her personnel file after three years, the charges brought against her by UCSB—the result of the university’s lengthy investigation—still stand as a record of what she did and what she acknowledged having done, which included multiple charges of retaliation against students. Readers should not be fooled by this clumsy sleight of hand and Kurin’s current efforts to erase the record.

Post a Comment


Anonymous said…
I am shocked that Kurin received tenure.

Does Kurin's father hold some sort of influence over the Dean, Provost, etc?

At every turn, UCSB has disregarded the safety of their students, and now they have granted permanent employment to someone with a proven record of harassing students and enabling abuse.

As is clear from her latest Reddit posts, Kurin cannot restrain herself: even as she speaks of "compassion and support," she can't stop spewing unhinged vitriol about Michael Balter and others. No one is safe from Kurin's wrath.

The only good thing about Kurin violating the settlement agreement is that Michael Balter is now free to amplify his warnings against Kurin and her cronies. Since UCSB won't prioritize student safety, it's incumbent on all the archaeological community to protect students and warn them away from Kurin and UCSB.
Anonymous said…
People should be aware that, in the same Reddit thread, Kurin anonymously posted then deleted harassing comments targeting two of her critics: the first post insulted a former classmate of hers and shared private information regarding a rental dispute between him and her parents dating more than a decade ago; the second post attacked and ridiculed a former student over her mental health diagnosis. Both posts were appalling, and both shared her signature language (she likes to call everyone who objects to her ‘rich, white, and privileged’—hello, pot, hello kettle).

This habit of Kurin’s making defamatory, predatory and abusive anonymous accounts should raise serious alarms over her mental stability. She seems to think that she can continue to do this free of consequence, but she is wrong. Others are watching and keeping account and will not hesitate to act, whether by taking the evidence to her employers or reporting her to the police, when the time comes.
Anonymous said…
“Let me be perfectly clear. I never harassed or abused anyone, nor did I ever enable or condone such behavior by anyone.”

And yet former university and field school students, UCSB Title IX investigation, the Institute of Field Studies, and your own actions during the lawsuit and now, all make it “perfectly clear” that you did do all the above, and continue to do so.
Anonymous said…

To first commenter--I think you hit the nail of the head. I know of no other junior assistant professor who gets to keep their job and awarded tenure after being barred from teaching for three years and stripped off of all their graduate students. And this after being found RESPONSIBLE (not using the “G” word so please do not sue me) by more than one investigatory committee for retaliating against students, apparently on more than one occasion on and off campus.

None of this is “mild form of punishment” by any academic standard, like she tries to convince her students who may not know otherwise. And those insane Tweets that she admitted writing, full of Nazi connotations and bloodcurdling threats on a fellow author, educator, and a #MeToo advocate? I mean professors these days are getting sacked for much much less, and even without all the direct evidence we have in this case.

One thing she’s right about -- she’s just some middling ECR and another dime-a-dozen bio-archaeologist of South America, so it’s not extraordinary academic credentials that influenced those decisions to keep her around. No sir, something else is going on and it is certainly not rooted in our collegial impartiality or institutional due process.
Anonymous said…
Is there a good reason why she still appears as assistant professor on the department page?
Is it the webmaster just dragging their feet or maybe someone up there is saying let’s just give it a few days and see what she does next
Also why is the BABL lab still locked or password protected?
And don’t give me that culturally sensitive bullshit. The bioarcheology lab site used to be open to students at least up to fall 2019

Where her predator husband was still listed there as an Affiliated Research Scientist months and years after the UCSB and IFR investigations


With the university website widely promoting his research


Anonymous said…
I’m troubled by the way Kurin tried to lure that student who wrote on reddit into a meeting. They refused her “reconciliation” offer and rightly so. That’s what you get after retaliating and suing all those who previously criticized you, including your own university. That’s what you get after lashing out incessantly at your former students on social media. She pretty much lost all credibility as a mentor.
Anonymous said…
I read your linked thread and I tend to agree with you. I believe that those seasoned UCSB administrators made a very calculated decision, literally. On the one hand they practice the institutional art of willful blindness. On the other, they wagered that you or their students probably won’t sue them if Kurin gets tenure, but Kurin and Kurin Senior will surely do if she didn’t. When it comes to employment litigation, UC Regents spend millions if not billions a year in damages and legal fees, e.g. https://calemploymentlawupdate.proskauer.com/2020/05/13m-ucla-case-exposes-calif-employment-litigation-flaws/
Heck, even looks like they’re preparing!
Anonymous said…
There will be a continuing process. Emboldened, these kinds of people will promptly turn on UCSB faculty and students creating such an internal mess that either the administration breaks up the entire department as happened at Florida State or they confine the professor to a space with little responsibility and no contact with other faculty and students. Essentially this is what happened with Arthur Demarest at Vanderbilt for example. In some cases they will invest to have the individual move along to another institution to protect the UC brand. Kurin's letter is creepy. It reads just like the drivel we're subjected to daily from disingenuous politicians caught wrong doing.
Anonymous said…
Not to undermine the severity of the insults and threats on her students and Michael, but the following is my favourite among Danielle Kurin’s twitting rampage from May 28:

“Read Goddess&Bull. Cultural Imperialist Ian Hodder revealed as serial philanderer & gatekeeper; exploited sexual /pwr dynamics w/ vulnerable female students & staff; treated his many intimate partners, children & locals terribly. Why idolize a despicable man?”

Of course none of these views are expressed by Balter in his book, so these must convey Kurin’s opinion of Hodder. He really ought to sue her for defamation.
Anonymous said…

Does Kurin know something about Ian Hodder that the rest of us are unaware of? If so she should speak up, now. He is scheduled to lecture to teenage kids about Catalhoyuk at a Cotsen event next week.
Michael Balter said…
Kurin's main reason for attacking Ian Hodder is that he is the main character in my book about the history of the Catalhoyuk dig, "The Goddess and the Bull." Although the book is highly acclaimed by archaeologists (including a well known colleague of Kurin's at UCSB, see the jacket blurbs) Kurin has tried to discredit it as part of her smear campaign against me (even in the Complaint in the Kurin v. Balter case, which included a length recitation of Amazon reviews.) Readers may recall that she photographed the book in various dumpsters near her parents' home in Falls Church VA and photoshopped it into a cat litter box filled with cat poo. This is the level she is on.
Michael Balter said…
Notice: I have deleted a comment about someone other than Danielle Kurin. It’s best to get in touch with me privately about such matters.
Anonymous said…
I believe that Mr. Balter is writing most of his own comments
Anonymous said…
Nah, I really don’t think so. I know I contributed quite a few over the last two years, and I know many other colleagues and students who wrote as well. Plus, you can tell when these were written by an expert in their field like archaeology, or provide insider information that Balter has no way of knowing otherwise (but were verified as true). The rest are just empty comments like yours which do not contribute anything to the discussion.