The Strange Case of the Montecito Mudslide Human Remains [Updated Nov 1]. [See Comments for some pertinent observations]




Montecito mudslide, Jan 2018/ U.S. Coast Guard photo/ Wikimedia Commons



Early in the morning of January 9, 2018, the wealthy suburb of Montecito, California, just east of Santa Barbara, was hit with an avalanche of mud that destroyed numerous homes and took 23 lives. After a devastating fire in the hills above the town, followed by a huge downpour of rain, there was nothing to stop the earth and debris that bore down on the unprepared inhabitants. Two of the dead and missing, a small child and a teenager, were not recovered by rescuers.

There would be a lot of recriminations in the months to come, as Santa Barbara County officials were blamed for the lack of preparation. The people of Montecito were angry, and many still are. One of the dead was Dave Cantin, a popular local Scoutmaster, whose body was found washed down near the Pacific Ocean beach. Dave's wife, Kim, was spared, as was their daughter, Lauren. But despite extensive searching, their teenage son, Jack Cantin, was never found. But Kim never gave up hoping that one day he would be laid to rest. Neither did many of her neighbors.

In January of this year, Kim Cantin approached the University of California, Santa Barbara to see if any of its scientists could help with the search. UCSB put her in touch with Danielle Kurin, an archaeologist and forensic anthropologist at the university. For Kurin, the timing could not be better. She was up for tenure, and it was not sure that she was going to get it. There were two reasons for that. 

First, Kurin had recently come back to work from a three-year administrative leave after the university, in a Title IX proceeding, had found that she had retaliated multiple times against students who had reported her former husband--a Peruvian archaeologist who worked with Kurin at sites in and around the city of Andahuaylas--for sexual harassment. Many of her colleagues in the university's anthropology department, along with archaeologists across the United States and Peru, felt she was a "danger to students" (as many put it in just those word) and should not be rewarded for her documented misconduct. Feelings were even stronger after her colleagues found out that her husband was accused of sexually assaulting a student in 2018, and that Kurin was kicked out of a field school umbrella organization for failing to provide a safe environment for the students.

Second, in June 2020, Kurin had sued me, the journalist who reported on her misconduct with the help of many survivors and other witnesses, for defamation. After 13 months the case was eventually settled; but very recently, after Kurin violated the settlement agreement, I declared the agreement null and void.

Obviously I am not objective where Kurin is concerned, and I expect that any discerning reader will examine what I say carefully to see how well I back it up. However, what I can say is that during the litigation, my attorneys and I received thousands of pages of documents in discovery, and that every page backed up my reporting fully. Indeed, some of the documents revealed additional details we were not originally aware of, which only made the case against Kurin worse and more definitive.

Very shortly after Kurin agreed to help try to find Jack Cantin's remains, her department met to decide its recommendation on her tenure bid. According to several sources, the verdict was thumbs down. That left the decision to the university administration, which overruled the department's recommendation in August and awarded her tenure. I have heard a number of hypotheses as to why UCSB gave her tenure, ranging from threats by Kurin to sue the university--something she had also done back in 2016 when she was denied a promotion while on administrative leave--to a deal by the university to award her tenure if she dropped the lawsuit against me, which was very embarrassing to the institution, to possible pressure from Kurin's father, Richard Kurin, a major official at the Smithsonian Institution and a very powerful scientist who is widely feared by Danielle's colleagues. I don't know whether any of these scenarios are correct, or whether the truth could involve a combination of all of them.

But the university took no public action between February 2021, when the department was likely to have passed on its recommendation, and August 2021, when tenure was awarded.

In the meantime, Kurin and her volunteers worked in the hills of Montecito, trying to find the remains of Jack Cantin.

On July 14, 2021, Kurin and I signed the settlement agreement, and she applied to the court to dismiss the case the same day. The following day, U.S. District Judge Vincent Briccetti of the Southern District of New York, who was overseeing the litigation, approved the settlement and ended the lawsuit.

On July 22, seven days later, Kurin and Kim Cantin announced to the media that Jack Cantin's remains had been found. Kurin told reporters that she was "90 percent" sure that the remains belonged to Jack, and provided the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office with a one-page fact sheet explaining her findings. However--and this is a very key part of the story--the remains were reportedly found nearly two months earlier, over Memorial Day weekend, by Kurin and her team.

The delayed reporting of the remains to county officials clearly put the Sheriff's Office in a tricky situation. In a terse statement issued later on July 22, the Office made it clear that they were not taking Kurin's word for it, pending their own investigation; and, that they had found out from a media report rather than from Kurin directly. It is worth citing the statement in full:


"Today the Sheriff’s Office received the KEYT news story that indicated that the remains of Jack Cantin, a 17-year-old who has been missing and presumed dead since the devastating 1/9 Debris Flow in 2018, had been found.

Later today the Sheriff / Coroner’s Office received, and is in the process of reviewing, a one-page 'Fast Fact Forensic Report' prepared by a UCSB anthropologist, Dr. Danielle Kurin, that was referenced in today’s news story. In the 'Fast Fact' report she opined that the remains 'are consistent with those of Jack Cantin,' and that she is 'over 90% certain that these remains are those of Jack Cantin.'

Sheriff / Coroner investigators are seeking the full report from Dr. Kurin. Once obtained, it will be reviewed as part of the ongoing investigation. In the meantime, the case of Jack Cantin’s disappearance remains open. We will continue to work closely with the Cantin family on this case, as we have since the day he disappeared."


The local media, however, cast little doubt on Kurin's claim, and a number of stories--at least in their headlines--declared flatly that Jack had been found.

As I write, however, the Sheriff's Office, along with the country medical examiner and coroner, have not announced the results of their own investigation of the remains, which is still ongoing. Raquel Zick, the Sheriff's spokesperson, told me that there are a "lot of moving parts" to the investigation and that one reason for the delay (now more than three months) is that they were still awaiting Kurin's more detailed report. And that, she told me, was delayed because Kurin wanted to have it "peer reviewed," even though it is not an academic paper.

I have talked to a number of law enforcement sources and anthropologists about the two-month delay between the supposed finding of the human remains and the announcement to the media (not to law enforcement, as I mentioned above). They were unanimous that holding onto the remains, or even removing them from where they were found before notifying law enforcement, was a violation of California's Health and Safety Code concerning the handling of dead bodies. The relevant section reads:


(b)  In the event of discovery or recognition of any human remains in any location other than a dedicated cemetery, there shall be no further excavation or disturbance of the site or any nearby area reasonably suspected to overlie adjacent remains until the coroner of the county in which the human remains are discovered has determined, in accordance with Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 27460) of Part 3 of Division 2 of Title 3 of the Government Code, that the remains are not subject to the provisions of Section 27491 of the Government Code or any other related provisions of law concerning investigation of the circumstances, manner and cause of any death, and the recommendations concerning the treatment and disposition of the human remains have been made to the person responsible for the excavation, or to his or her authorized representative, in the manner provided in Section 5097.98 of the Public Resources Code. The coroner shall make his or her determination within two working days from the time the person responsible for the excavation, or his or her authorized representative, notifies the coroner of the discovery or recognition of the human remains.


In other words, according to the experts I have consulted, neither Kurin nor Kim Cantin (with whom we must have considerable sympathy) had the right to remove the remains and examine them in any way. As one leading American forensic anthropologist put it to me, after I asked them to comment without specifying the circumstances other than that it concerned a mudslide victim (I also promised them anonymity so they could opine freely):


"Ethical questions are often difficult ones especially in the abstract.  On the surface the scenario you describe is odd.  In many states when a forensic scientist encounters human remains they are required to contact authorities, usually an ME [medical examiner] or law enforcement. This is especially true if the remains are known to be recent enough for a possible I.d.  Is it possible that the remains are “premodern” and unlikely to be identifiable?  Could the conditions of discovery indicate that the mudslide occurred many decades ago…or longer?  If the remains are, say 100 years old or more, then the laws and probably the ethics are variable among jurisdictions.  Having said that, if the remains are associated with recent events (a known mudslide?) then I would question, on both legal and ethical grounds, the decision not to contact authorities."


Obviously the circumstances remain murky. Zick would not tell me whether or not the Sheriff was looking into possible legal issues in the case, and neither Kurin nor her attorney have responded to a number of questions I have posed to them about those circumstances (not surprisingly, of course.) Nor, to date, has the UCSB press office responded to questions about what they knew about Kurin's work in this area, whether they were informed after Memorial Day that she had purportedly found the remains, where the remains were analyzed, and other relevant questions.

Based on certain indications I have been given, I believe that the Sheriff's Office will be closing its investigation and announcing its own conclusions fairly soon. Until then, the identity of the bones found by Kurin and her volunteers remains an open question.


Update Oct 28: The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office confirmed to me today that the investigation of the remains purported to be those of Jack Cantin is still open.


Update Oct 29: The right way to deal with human remains.

A contact in California has alerted me to an incident, also concerning the finding of human remains, that occurred in May of this year, shortly before Danielle Kurin claims to have found what she alleges are the remains of mudslide victim Jack Cantin.

According to a report in the June 3 edition of the Santa Barbara publication Noozhawk, on May 24, Sheriff's deputies were summoned to Riven Rock Road in Montecito after construction workers found some human remains in a trench they were digging. From the deteriorated state of the bones, investigators quickly suspected they belonged to an earlier Native American, which was later confirmed by a forensic anthropology consultant called into the case. According to the Newzhawk report, the California Native American Heritage Commission was contacted to discuss release of the remains with them, and possible determination of which tribe they may have belonged to.

Notice that the forensic consultant came to his conclusions within a week of those bones being found, whereas Kurin's report on the purported Jack Cantin remains had yet to be submitted to Santa Barbara county authorities five months after they were found and three months after she announced her conclusions to the media. Notice also that the construction workers immediately contacted authorities after the Native American remains were found, as the law requires.

Do the remains found by Danielle Kurin really belong to Jack Cantin? How much of the skeleton was found, a question that has yet to be answered by Kurin or the Sheriff's Office? Could they, too, belong to a Native American who lived in the area many years ago? Presumably, as an anthropologist who has worked on ancient burials in Peru, Kurin has the expertise to know whether or not that is a possibility. But so far very little information has been  released.


Further update Oct 29: Some people have suggested to me privately that Danielle Kurin might have planted the bones she found, or her team found, from the very large collection of bones stored in her lab at the university (Kurin regularly teaches osteology and other anthropology courses.)

Given Kurin’s history, I have always thought that possible, but there is no evidence for it and I am not making any claim of that sort. However, the following chronology, which I partly laid out in the main post above, should be considered. [Please note that this chronology has been corrected as of Oct 30]

—Kurin and her volunteers began looking for Jack Cantin’s remains in February 2020, the same month that I began reporting on her 2016 Title IX for retaliating against students who reported her partner and later husband for sexual harassment (she knew my report was coming some weeks before it was first published.)

—Kurin knew that her department would take up the question of her tenure in January of this year. Indeed, they met on January 29 to discuss it. Soon afterwards, the department recommended against tenure.

—Kurin and I, with the help of a mediator, tried to settle the case over a period of nearly eight weeks in April and May of this year. We seemed to come close to an agreement, but those talks broke down on May 28, as I announced at the time on Twitter. May 28 was the Friday that began Memorial Day weekend.

—Kurin told the news media that the bones were discovered over Memorial Weekend, ie, 29-31 May.

—Kurin withheld telling the Sheriff’s Office and the media that the bones had been found.

—On July 14, Kurin v. Balter was settled with an agreement that I would no longer report about her if she would allow the publication of a smoking gun document which showed my reporting had been right all along.

—On July 22, Kurin and Kim Cantin announced to the media that they had found bones Kurin was “90% certain” belonged to Jack.  The Sheriff found out about it only after seeing media reports, and then made contact with Kurin who supplied them with a one-page summary of her findings.

—Today, more than three months later, the Sheriff/medical examiner/coroner have yet to announce their findings in what continues to be an open investigation.

I think that readers, and local reporters in Santa Barbara and vicinity, might have some questions to ask Kurin, UCSB, and the authorities. But I do hope Kurin is right about her identification. It would give the Cantin family the closure they have sought for nearly four years. I also hope that the Cantin family has not been exploited for an ulterior motive.

Update Oct 30: A very pertinent observation.

I’m pulling up a comment that was posted today because I think it gets to the heart of the problem here. Kurin says she is “90% certain” that the remains her team found were those of Jack Cantin. But that can only have been after she analyzed them over a period of two months, according to her own timeline. What if she is wrong, or had realized during that two months she was wrong about the identification? If so, she would have withheld human remains from authorities for that period of time, as the commenter remarks.

Anonymous said…
“I hope a real forensic anthropologist will chime in to explain exactly why the chain of custody is so important and how it was potentially destroyed, in this instance, by Danielle Kurin deciding she knows better than law enforcement how to handle newly-discovered remains. There’s a whole world of evidence handling that she knows nothing about as she’s not trained in that field.

What if, for example, these remains belong to a homicide victim and Kurin’s treatment of them destroyed critical clues? What of THAT grieving family if such an unthinkable thing actually proved true?

The laws concerning these issues exist for a reason and we can’t just sit back and stay quiet when they are violated so egregiously and with so little concern for protocol.”

Update Nov 1: Did Kurin involve innocent students in a violation of California law?

The article below names four students who worked with Kurin in the recovery of the purported remains of Jack Cantin and appear to be direct witnesses to their unearthing. Many believe that Kurin violated the CA Health and Safety Code by withholding both the bones and news of the discovery from law enforcement authorities for two full months, whether or not they really turn out to be Jack Cantin’s. If so, Kurin may have involved innocent students she was supervising in a crime, even if they did not know it. What reason did she give the students for keeping it secret for so long? Unfortunately, they may end up having to talk to authorities about that, if they have not already.


Update Jan 7, 2022: Kurin has resigned her tenured position at UC Santa Barbara. Watch this blog and my Twitter feed, @mbalter, for further details.

Post a Comment

142 Comments

S. said…
Aside from the issues under CA state law around informing the Sheriff-Coroner in Santa Barbara of the discovery of human remains, her actions may also violate NAGPRA if the identified remains actually come from a Chumash ancestor. Particularly since it seems that she disturbed and/or held them under the authority of UCSB, presumably on campus, to conduct her analysis.
Michael Balter said…
Yes it has occurred to a number of people that they might be Chumash remains, in which case Kurin should have known that right away. Situations like this lead to a lot of speculation, especially since she spent two months alone with the remains before making a public announcement and now three more months have gone by while she supposedly is preparing her more detailed report. We will know more soon, I suspect.
S. said…
As a local CRM archaeologist, the speculation makes good sense to me given the general location. UCSB might be reaping the reward of their devil's bargain if that turns out to be the case.

And UCSB and Dr. Kurin should pray like hell that SYBCI doesn't start asking tough questions.
Anonymous said…
As someone who has followed this with interest, I’m astounded that the local press has shown so little curiosity in questioning the particulars of this case. By only focusing on the ‘feel-good’ factor, they’ve allowed Kurin to manipulate them for her own positive press.

And I have to seriously question the role UCSB played in all this. From reading your blog post it would seem that the university either has no rules specifying proper protocol in the handling of human remains or did not communicate them to Kurin. Or worse, perhaps, they allowed her flout the law without repercussion. In this, they look worse than amateurish. Once again, they owe the community an explanation.
S. said…
My comments below are based on my personal experience in local archaeology and the opinions are simply speculation.

UCSB has policies around the treatment of human remains that aim to ensure compliance with both California and US law. It is typical that these policies would be communicated to faculty like Dr. Kurin. As noted in the blog post above, UCSB hasn't commented (including on what they knew and when they knew it). I assume that the university was not aware of her involvement.

For Dr. Kurin's part, I assume she was simply not aware of the correct protocols around human remains discoveries in California or in the United States generally. It could also be the case that she was aware of and/or understood the requirements but was under the (mistaken) impression that work on private land, conducted under a private contract, would not be subject to those protocols. The alternative explanations that I can think of are worse and I will not list them.

As you say, UCSB will need to explain all of this to the community. Given a favorable interpretation of events, Dr. Kurin would seem to be a loose cannon (in the original sense of the phrase) at best.
Anonymous said…
Regarding UCSB, from what I understand, they gave Kurin permission to help search for the remains using university equipment.

As regards Kurin’s understanding of the law in this instance, she has collaborated on forensic analysis with local law enforcement in the past, so I would think she is aware of protocol.

I won’t speculate (out loud) about anything improper or illegal, but something, as they say, ain’t right.
Michael Balter said…
It is true that Kurin advertises herself as a forensic anthropologist in the several Web sites she keeps going these days.
Anonymous said…
Most unfortunately, Danielle Kurin now has the PL Walker Bioarchaeology and Biogeochemistry Lab website (http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/kurinlab) under lock and key (that is, password-protected.)
For many in the archaeological community, this goes against academic transparency and open access principles at a public university. According to historical snapshots of Internet Archive/WayBack Machine (https://web.archive.org/web/2019*/http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/kurinlab), the website was accessible to the public from June 2015 till it went dark in Sep. 2019 or slightly thereafter. This is right about the time when Balter started getting reports, and reporting himself, on her grubby (ex-)hubby, who himself was affiliated with the lab. If not a coincidence, then some may argue that Kurin is concealing information from the academic and general public due to personal reasons. Very unethical.

In respect to the discussion above, the last instance the lab website was still accessible, it read-

https://web.archive.org/web/20190318234250/http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/kurinlab/
“Directed by Dr. Danielle Kurin, the Phillip Lee Walker Bioarchaeology and Biogeochemistry Lab is dedicated to the analysis of human remains from archaeological, historic, and forensic contexts primarily in North and South America.”
And-
https://web.archive.org/web/20190120100956/http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/kurinlab/danielle-kurin

“I have also consulted on forensic cases in both the U.S.A. and Peru.”

So there you have it.
Anonymous said…
She’s obviously not afraid to take the law into her own hands. As a reminder, this is the same UCSB professor who-- according to former students-- enlisted them to chase down thieves who stole her belongings. In Peru. In the middle of the night. With machetes. And then bribed the police to beat up the thieves so they’ll return her stuff.
Anonymous said…
Forensic anthropology is qualitatively different from bioarchaeology. Does Kurin have the credentials (not just a Ph.D.) to do this sort of analysis? Anything to do with law enforcement is done with a specific protocol. "Consulting" on a forensic case, that is, answering some questions and possibly taking a look at some human remains while in the presence of an officer is significantly different than actually searching for, excavating, and taking that individual to your own lab for months at a time. Why is that report taking so long, hm?
Anonymous said…
I highly, highly doubt Danielle was simply "unaware" of the protocols. She does not have the credentials needed to do this work. And, the report is probably taking so long because Danielle isn't a forensic anthropologist. She probably realized that she didn't have the experience to work on forensic cases, and assumed a "fast fact" sheet was the extent of the work. Would have saved everyone (especially the Cantins) a lot of grief if she had been honest with everyone about her lack of experience. ABFA board certification exists for a reason!
Michael Balter said…
One important aspect of this story is the almost complete lack of curiosity and enterprise by the local Santa Barbara press, which appears to have asked few or no questions about the circumstances of the finding of these remains. They reported what they were told and that was the end of it. No evidence any followup, even though the Sheriff’s Office said clearly that the investigation was still open. Perhaps that will now change.
Anonymous said…
From The Montecito Journal, on the experimental methods Kurin and her team of undergraduates (again with the undergrads!) employed during the search:

‘[Kurin’s] team...buried pig heads to see how the remains would decay and what could be found in the soil chemistry, a process that could also be utilized on human remains, again limiting the footprint of the search.’

One wonders if that wasn’t so much an educational tool as a coded message to Kurin’s enemies.
Anonymous said…
Kurin not only did not report the discovery of the remains to the proper authorities, she held on to them for two months, until such time as the lawsuit was concluded and Balter committed not to write about her. She then did an end-run around the Sheriff’s department by holding what amounted to a press conference on the local news.

That’s right, the Sheriff’s office, much to their chagrin, did not find out about it until Kurin announced, on the evening news, that she had found Jack, effectively declaring the case closed.

The Sheriff issued this statement, shortly thereafter:

‘Today the Sheriff’s Office received the KEYT news story that indicated that the remains of Jack Cantin, a 17 year-old who has been missing and presumed dead since the devastating 1/9 Debris Flow in 2018, had been found.

Later today the Sheriff / Coroner’s Office received, and is in the process of reviewing, a one-page
“Fast Fact Forensic Report” prepared by a UCSB anthropologist, Dr. Danielle Kurin, that was
referenced in today’s news story. In the “Fast Fact” report she opined that the remains “are
consistent with those of Jack Cantin,” and that she is “over 90% certain that these remains are those
of Jack Cantin.”

Sheriff / Coroner investigators are seeking the full report from Dr. Kurin. Once obtained, it will be
reviewed as part of the ongoing investigation. In the meantime, the case of Jack Cantin’s
disappearance remains open. We will continue to work closely with the Cantin family on this case, as
we have since the day he disappeared.’

The local—and national—press accepted Kurin’s version of events unquestioningly, and a few weeks later, UCSB awarded her tenure.

Five months after their purported recovery, we still don’t know if the remains are really those of Jack Cantin, yet Kurin is online touting it as fact and praising herself for having found Jack Cantin’s body ‘against all odds.’

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a cynical and disgusting ploy by a disgraced individual to rehabilitate her tarnished reputation. Unsurprisingly, probably out of embarrassment and in deference to a community desperate for healing, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s dept appears loathe to discuss the case, and the entire highly-suspicious episode is in danger of being swept under the rug. Without a doubt, up until this moment, Kurin must have smugly believed she would get away with it all.

Shame on UCSB and shame on the press for falling, as usual, into her transparent and manipulative trap.
Anonymous said…
Bioarchaeology is not the same as forensic anthropology. In other words, the ability to identify skeletal remains as human does not make someone a forensic anthropologist. The apparent lack of ethics in this situation is appalling, and confirms my decision to not recommend UCSB to students interested in Bioanthropology.
Anonymous said…
Has anyone stopped to think about the Cantin family while making all of these speculative comments? This tragedy is about their son, and attempts by Kurin, Balter and other commenters to use it for their own ends are shameful
Michael Balter said…
Personally I have given a lot of thought to the family. If they are being exploited, which is possible, then it’s best for the truth to come out sooner rather than later.
Michael Balter said…
Also I reject any false equivalency here. Danielle is the one who has retaliated against students and abused them in her classes. I am the reporter has exposed to her misconduct
Anonymous said…
“ Has anyone stopped to think about the Cantin family while making all of these speculative comments? This tragedy is about their son, and attempts by Kurin, Balter and other commenters to use it for their own ends are shameful”

Hi Debby Sneed (or someone who writes and thinks like her)! Have you ever stopped to think about your own shameful attempts to gain attention and adulation by inserting yourself in metoo cases that have nothing to do with you? And by trying to get Balter’s lawyers to drop him during the Kurin case?
Anonymous said…
‘Has anyone stopped to think about the Cantin family while making all of these speculative comments? This tragedy is about their son, and attempts by Kurin, Balter and other commenters to use it for their own ends are shameful.’

No one wants this to be happening. No one wants Danielle Kurin to turn this tragedy into vile mockery or establish the precedent that the law can be disregarded with impunity.
But here we are, yet again, because of something she did without concern for anybody but herself.

Scolding others for their criticism does nothing but enable these destructive tendencies which have been allowed to flourish for years as the result of too many people deciding to look the other way.
Michael Balter said…
For those in the dark, Debby Sneed is a California-based archaeologist who has developed an unhealthy obsession with me and my #MeToo reporting, and has indeed created sock puppets and false online identities to criticize me, and did, as the commenter said, write to my pro bono law firm during the Kurin v. Balter case and try to influence them against me (did not work). Debby began her campaign when I first wrote about Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, who has now been kicked out of the National Academy of Sciences. I have not seen her praising that decision anywhere. There are just too many enablers about posing as concerned citizens…
Anonymous said…
On the one hand – utilising pigs' carcasses in forensic anthropology has been around since at least the 1980s and 1990s:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0379073899000183?via%3Dihub

On the other – I cannot shake the feeling that D.K. got her inspiration directly from Golding:
https://youtu.be/INE0g4kvXLc

Poor undergrads
Anonymous said…
Has anyone stopped to consider that, five months after the announcement, Jack’s family hasn’t been able to put their son to rest because the case is still open, having been botched by an untrained amateur posing, with the blessing of UCSB, as a forensic specialist? Has anyone stopped to consider that using a young man’s death and his family’s grief for the purpose of self-aggrandizement is repulsive and not something the archaeology community should tolerate? Has anyone stopped to consider that the failure to hold her accountable at key moments of her worst behavior has created a fucking monster who now has to be kept in check by bloggers and scared students on Reddit? Has anyone stopped to consider that the virtue scolds who show up to criticize Balter in these moments never extend the same scrutiny to Dr. Kurin herself? Has anyone stopped to consider why that is?
Anonymous said…
I am not too familiar with PXRF, which Kurin claims she used (along with burying pig heads) to help find Cantin, but I was under the impression PXRF does not detect organic residues? Also, what is up with the line that his body allowed flowers to grow where the surrounding area was toxic? What’s up with the thermal shock? Mudslides are great at preservation; so why can’t they id him?

https://www.montecitojournal.net/2021/08/05/jack-brought-us-all-together-after-42-months-community-finds-its-lost-son/

Re: Possible Debby commenter, your crowd was also abusive to early BethAnn critics who were suspicious about sciencing_bi’s death (Liz Horton, for example, told ASU profs to fuck off and accused them of lying about being profs at ASU)
Anonymous said…
I think a lot about the Cantin family, actually, and I shudder when I think of Kim Cantin discovering who Danielle Kurin really is. She should never have been allowed by UCSB to take a bunch of undergrads into the field, and she should never have been allowed to taint this whole tragic episode with her shady motives and her unprofessional behavior.
Michael Balter said…
One thing I should emphasize, putting on my hat as a journalist and a journalism instructor, is that this is a legitimate news story. The Sheriff's investigation is still open after several months, Kurin is very late with her promised complete report, there are lots of obvious questions about the overlapping timelines of the search for Jack Cantin and the Kurin v. Balter lawsuit, and there is a prima facie case that Kurin violated the law by not reporting the remains immediately (the Health and Safety Code seems very clear on her obligations). We should know more pretty soon.
Regarding the query about the application of PXRF here, I also have questions about the legitimate application of several techniques described in the Montecito Journal article. For example, the pig head experiment seems more likely to be an active learning exercise for the students than an experiment to inform the hypothetical state of remains. (Aren't decomp rates already estimated for human remains in various climate niches?)

There's also a possibility that the journalist who wrote the article misquoted the students or instructor involved. I have been victimized by a local, small town reporter who quite comically misquoted me on basic archaeological techniques. When it comes to science, not all journalists are as diligent and detail-oriented as Michael Balter!
Michael Balter said…
The inadequacies of the local coverage are quite glaring and surprising. The remains were supposedly found during Memorial Day weekend of this year. Who found them? Who was around to see it? What were the exact circumstances? How complete was the skeleton? Was the skull there? If I had been a reporter covering this, these would be among the first questions I would ask. But they are not reflected in any of the coverage I have seen. Even worse, why did it not occur to any reporter to ask Kurin why she waited two months to announce the remains, and even then she did not tell authorities--they had to contact her? It's not the first time that human remains have been found in Montecito, or in Santa Barbara. Very strange situation.
Anonymous said…
I hope a real forensic anthropologist will chime in to explain exactly why the chain of custody is so important and how it was potentially destroyed, in this instance, by Danielle Kurin deciding she knows better than law enforcement how to handle newly-discovered remains. There’s a whole world of evidence handling that she knows nothing about as she’s not trained in that field.

What if, for example, these remains belong to a homicide victim and Kurin’s treatment of them destroyed critical clues? What of THAT grieving family if such an unthinkable thing actually proved true?

The laws concerning these issues exist for a reason and we can’t just sit back and stay quiet when they are violated so egregiously and with so little concern for protocol.
Michael Balter said…
It's worth remembering that Kurin admitted to a federal judge that she was the creator and sole curator of this sock puppet:

https://mbalter.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/camilleoncroton-full-screen-capture.pdf

Nevertheless she was given tenure and allowed to teach students for decades to come. Of course she can still be fired if the university found good cause.
Allegra said…
Hello Michael... after all the heart-stopping bullying and harassment you've undergone one *might* argue that you've lost all perspective on Kurin, but my god, the trail of lies, half-truths, confusion and intimidation she and her family leave behind her (and push in front of her) is absolutely gobsmacking.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth Dixon said…
I'm confused about the timeline. This article https://newspress.com/researchers-share-details-on-discovery-of-jack-cantins-remains/ suggests that Kurin started searching in 2020 not 2021? "The researchers spent 18 months ..."
Michael Balter said…
Yes, I believe that is correct. The search began about the same month I began writing about Kurin's’ misconduct, not the month she was being vetted for tenure by her department. My apologies for that error. The rest of the overlap between the events of the lawsuit and the discovery of the remains fits like a hand and glove.
Michael Balter said…
A friend writes:

“I have worked as an archaeological monitor, specifically as a human remains expert, in several counties and even when excavating in known prehistoric areas, with KNOWN burials, if remains are found, the coroner is called IMMEDIATELY. I know because I’ve had to do exactly that with a small skull fragment.”
Anonymous said…
https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-students-join-search-efforts-for-missing-mudslide-victims-in-montecito
"I've worked in war zones and this is more complex than a war zone," Kurin told KSBY.

As someone well familiar with her research history, that’s a big “nope”! With all due respect Andahuaylas is not a “war zone”, nor is any of the other places she’s worked in. Daniela, please stick to the facts and don’t try to make this story more dramatic than it already is.
I noticed inaccuracies in the quotes of Kurin in two of the local press articles on the alleged discovery of the remains. I've provided relevant quotes below. The inaccuracies bug me, because they are being used to construct an emotional story to appeal to survivors' sensibilities. I find such misrepresentation disrespectful to the bereaved.

For context, I have a PhD in Anthropology. I studied paleoethnobotany, specifically patterns in ancient cultivation from a long-term, historical ecology perspective. So, how folks altered soil in landscapes to encourage plant growth. I am also a University of California (UC) Certified Victory Gardener through the University of California Cooperative Extension program, which provides instruction on how to effectively introduce fertilizing agents to soil, and how toxic elements in soil impact plant growth and food quality.

1. Yes, phosphorous in soil encourages most plant growth. Yes, phosphorous derived from bones (and shells) can be a fertilizing agent. However, one cannot simply mix bone and shell into soil to deliver phosphorous. Typically bone and shell must be processed into a "bone meal" through crushing and mixing with other additives. And, the phosphorous is only available to the plant within a window of soil pH values.

In these quotes, Kurin asserts that the identification of the remains is 90% likely. Thus, I assume that the bones are not crushed or severely degraded. It's unlikely that bones resting in situ for three years would effectively fertilize otherwise infertile soil for a patch of flowers.

2. Arsenic can stunt plant growth, but is not known to prevent plant growth. This is actually a major problem, because plants grown for food do absorb arsenic from soil and deliver them to humans via edible parts. (Test your home garden if using any amount of native soils!)

3. Lead at low levels can stunt plant growth. Lead at very high levels can prevent plant growth. If the lead levels in the soil were high enough to prevent plant growth, the lead levels pose a serious danger to humans in the area. If the lead levels in the area are that high, I genuinely hope that the crew were wearing adequate PPE during their investigations. And that the bones are sufficiently designated as a biohazard for anyone who handles them in the future.

4. Rusty iron in soil is incredibly beneficial to plant growth! This alone could account for a superbloom patch on pretty much any landscape.

I googled my initial intuitions to confirm my vague recall of these facts.


https://newspress.com/researchers-share-details-on-discovery-of-jack-cantins-remains/

[When Jack was found, Dr. Kurin said the remains were surrounded by loads of toxic debris, but because of the phosphorus in the decomposed bones, flowers grew in the area where his remains were found.

“Jack was telling us where he was by creating life where there shouldn’t be,” Dr. Kurin said.]


https://www.montecitojournal.net/2021/08/05/jack-brought-us-all-together-after-42-months-community-finds-its-lost-son/

[At the site where Jack’s body was recovered, the surface area was tinged with arsenic, lead, and rusty iron — none of which are conducive to flourishing plant life.

But this particular spot was overtaken by Jack’s soul, manifested in a beautiful set of flowers.

“It was Jack’s remains that allowed them to grow,” Kurin said. “It was the perfect gift for his mother.

“A lasting memory that will allow her to heal.”]
Anonymous said…

https://daniellekurin.co/stories She links here to seven different news “stories” where she is being quoted. Wow. I have been in this business for almost 40 years and I have never, ever, seen another colleague toot own horn so loudly and milk the media so hard from the discovery of a single skeleton, let alone when it is such a delicate case. I can see why people think it was all a big showdown.

Anonymous said…
Following on Lana S. Martin, PhD astute commentary above, I too was disturbed by some of Kurin’s claims and quotes in those articles I read.

“In just 18 months, Kurin and her crew succeeded in their quest, even if the initial communication of good news felt like any other day, with Kurin texting Kim, asking if she wanted an update on the day’s progress.
As Kim cooked one of Lauren’s favorite meals — a dish featuring chicken, artichokes, and chickpeas — she connected with Kurin.
“Kim, we found a bone,” Kim remembers Kurin telling her. “And we think it’s Jack.”
Kim almost didn’t know how to react.
“It was relief. It was almost disbelief,” Kim said. “I had been looking for so long. It almost felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.” [https://www.montecitojournal.net/2021/08/05/jack-brought-us-all-together-after-42-months-community-finds-its-lost-son/]

If the reporting in factual, then Kurin actually told Ms. Cantin she thinks she found her son based on … one bone! It’s completely justified if the grieving parent wants to believe that the search is finally over. But it is categorically negligent for a forensic anthropologist (even if she is one) to propose a positive ID for a missing individual based on a single bone, and before conducting more lab tests on a complete skeleton.

But since this is Danielle Kurin we’re talking about, she is also quoted as having made the following statement:
“Jack was one of two people still missing from the debris flow, the other victim being 2-year-old Lydia Sutthithepa. Dr. Kurin said that at this point, the researchers believe Lydia’s remains are “one with the earth” and will likely not be found.” [https://newspress.com/researchers-share-details-on-discovery-of-jack-cantins-remains/]

“one with the earth” and will likely not be found.”??????? This is probably the most absurd statement an archaeologist can make, above all when we are talking about human remains that were buried for mere 3-4 years ago. Did she excavate every inch of the mudslide area to be able to make such a claim? Or is she telling the press that if she can’t find Lydia’s remains, no one can.

One way or the other, it’s completely fucked up to rob the Sutthithepa family of hope with such a reckless statement to the press, when she was all too ready to give Ms. Cantin “closure” based on the finding of a single bone.
Anonymous said…
To the poster who said : "Has anyone stopped to think about the Cantin family while making all of these speculative comments? This tragedy is about their son, and attempts by Kurin, Balter and other commenters to use it for their own ends are shameful."

From my perspective, of course, but I imagine everyone else as well. I am following this story as I believe the Cantin family is being exploited by DK to serve her own ends. DK has demonstrated poor judgement, vindictiveness, and a lack of ethics based on agreed upon facts (outside of the Cantin situation ), and I am dismayed that we share the title "anthropologist." As a parent who has dealt with traumatic events related to a child, I am appalled by DK's actions, and fear these actions will compound the grief and trauma of the Cantin family.
Anonymous said…
The below article, published at the time of the announcement, suggests that Kurin handed the remains directly to Kim Cantin:

‘Cambell [undergrad assistant] was there for the discoveries and also when they told Kim and handed her the remains.‘

Is that possible?? How would that have taken place? What did Kurin do, put them into a box or a plastic bag and just give them to Jack’s mother? Were they even examined in a lab, or just handed over, in situ, on the assumption they were Jack’s?

Is this why the sheriff’s department has been scrambling, behind the scenes, to retrieve and identify the remains?

Could this have actually happened?

None of this makes a lick of sense.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-anthropology-students-helped-in-search-for-montecito-teens-remains%3F_amp%3Dtrue

It has been commented upon numerous times that Kurin likes to use undergrads as her assistants because their lack of knowledge makes them uncritical of her methods. Now we see exactly why that is so very problematic. If what is reported here is true, there was no one there to question the propriety of Kurin simply declaring Jack found and then handing the remains to his mother without ever involving the authorities.

It’s outrageous and one has to hope and pray that Kim Cantin wasn’t given false closure by someone cynically seeking to bolster her tarnished image.
Michael Balter said…
The last commenter asks some important questions. If Kurin did hand the remains to Jack's mother, when did she do it? When they were first found last May, or not until July when the announcement was made, or sometime in between? And when and where did Kurin perform the analyses on the bones that led her to be "90% certain" that they were Jack's?

Then, what happened in July when the Sheriff found out through the media that human remains had been found? It's hard to believe that the authorities simply let Kim Cantin keep the remains, as that would make law enforcement complicit with a clear violation of the law--I would assume that they would have to take possession of the bones. Of course, this is Santa Barbara, and some have said to me privately that things are not always done by the book in that city.

At some point officials are going to have to come clean about all these questions, and the chips will fall where they may. Meanwhile local media should be asking these questions, which they did not do before, a real failing in my journalistic opinion.
Anonymous said…
According to the Montecito Journal, DK tested the remains over the course of 45 days. Presumably she presented them to Kim Cantin at the end of that period.

I suppose the local Sheriff was then left with the unpleasant task of asking Kim Cantin to turn over said remains, forced to explain that, despite all she was told, the case was not in fact closed.

And despite DK’s 90% certainty that the remains were those of Jack Cantin, the county coroner has apparently not been able to reach the same conclusion after several months.

This by itself is incredibly distressing and must weigh heavily on the Cantin family who were fed such assurances as to make them believe their excruciating ordeal was finally over.

Yet some have the temerity to suggest that those who are asking difficult questions on this blog are the ones causing pain to the Cantins.

The Cantin family’s hope was exploited and their pain compounded by one person and one person alone, and let’s not pretend otherwise.
Anonymous said…
1. On her website she promotes herself as a “Forensic Scientist”
https://daniellekurin.co/about
2. There are numerous mentions in her online CV for forensic consulting
https://daniellekurin.co/biobib
And the last two entries--
Lead Forensic Scientist
2019 - present Montecito, CA- Debris Flow Human Remains Recovery
2020 - present SB, CA - Toxic Elements in PPE & COVID Therapeutics

So is she, or is she not, a “forensic scientist”? If she is, one would like to see some credentials and certified training for exhuming bodies from disaster zones, other than self-ascribed ones. If not, then her professional negligence runs much farther than the Montecito case.
Lee Rudolph said…
With a bone as recently deposited as Kurin purports the one in her possession to be, would DNA be so degraded that nothing about the bone's origin could be learned that way? (This is a sincere question.)
Michael Balter said…
Thanks Lee for your question, which actually gets at the heart of a lot of the problems with the scenario Kurin has presented us all with. Again, the local media in Santa Barbara seems to have failed to ask some obvious questions.

1. Some media reports indicated that the bones were burned in some way. How extensively? It's hard to even get at this question because nowhere has anyone mentioned how many bones were found. One, two, three, the entire skeleton? Was the skull found, so that dental records could be compared? Mud preserves bodies quite well, usually, as someone pointed out above. If only fragments were found, where is the rest of the body? Why did Kurin not notify authorities immediately so they could begin their own search for the rest of the body if it was not intact?

2. Kurin does not do DNA analysis herself, but did she send the bones out for such analysis, and/or did she take any samples so that DNA analysis could be done? Did she preserve the bones in such a way that they would not be contaminated with human DNA from her or one of the students? Given that Jack's mother and sister are still alive, if any DNA at all could be recovered, no matter what the state of the bones, it would be relatively easy to compare it to Jack's relatives and come up with a likelihood that it really was Jack. If the bones had been given to the medical examiner right away, that office could have done the DNA testing.

3. Where are the bones now? (This was raised above as well.) Does the medical examiner or the coroner have them, or does Kim Cantin have them? If Kim has them, why has the Sheriff allowed her to keep them? This is an open investigation and until authorities positively identify them as Jack (if they do) Kim Cantin is not entitled to possess them, as a matter of law and in the interests of finding out who they belong to. What if they belong to a crime victim or a missing person, as a commenter above suggested was possible?

4. Critical to understanding all of the above is knowing WHY Kurin did not contact authorities immediately as she was legally required to do, and, as a supposed forensic anthropologist, she should/would have KNOWN she was required to do? Why did she wait until one week after she had settled a defamation suit with me, with an agreement that I would not write about her again, before making the public announcement? Did she know that I would raise all of these very obvious questions had I not been prohibited from posing them? (By violating the settlement, Kurin herself has now allowed me to ask them.)

Perhaps there are reasonable answers to all of these questions and we will soon find out what they are. In the meantime, given Kurin's history and the way that the timeline of the lawsuit and the timeline of the Jack Cantin fit together so closely, it is reasonable for me and others to question whether Kurin really found Jack Cantin's remains and whether there are alternative explanations for everything that has happened.

The ball is now in the court of Santa Barbara County authorities, and, I should add, in the court of the news media in the area, which should start asking all of these questions itself.
Michael Balter said…
I neglected to add one important point above.

Five months after the bones were found, and there months after the July announcement, Kurin had produced nothing other than a one page "fact fact" sheet about her findings that she was "90% certain" the bones belonged to Jack. The Sheriff's Office spokesperson, Raquel Zick, told me that one big reason they had not finalized their investigation was that they were waiting for Kurin's more extensive report. And why was that delayed? Because she had sent it out for "peer review" and that process was still not completed.

This problems with this are glaring. Why did it take Kurin so long to write her report? And since it was not an academic paper, why did it need to be "peer reviewed" and who did she send it to for "peer review"? Why could the medical examiner's or coroner's office, which employs and/or contracts expert forensic scientists, not have been involved in the peer review? (The question of why the authorities have allowed the whole case to go down this very irregular way is not answered either.)

As a reporter, I cannot come to any conclusions about what has happened here, because I don't have the facts. Perhaps Kurin really did find the remains of Jack Cantin, even if she went about it in a way that some experts are clearly saying may have violated the law and scientific ethics. On the other hand, I have to consider, as many obviously are, the possibility--the possibility, mind you, I am not stating it as any kind of fact or even as an opinion--that Kurin concocted this entire scenario as part of her desperate effort to get tenure at UCSB.

In making these statements I invoke my First Amendment rights to speak freely as a journalist probing this matter.
Anonymous said…
In case anyone wants to watch video of DK announcing the discovery of Jack’s remains on the local evening news:

https://keyt.com/news/santa-barbara-s-county/2021/07/22/kim-cantin-love-found-jack/
Anonymous said…
I suggest one of the bioarchaeologists who follows this blog volunteers to ‘peer review’ Danielle’s work, since it’s the only thing preventing Jack from being laid to rest.

Anonymous said…
To Anonymous October 31, 2021 at 3:19 PM, thanks for sharing the video link.

Minute 2:03: “Danielle Kurin says because of Lydia Sutthithepa young age at the time and bone composition, she is likely with the earth now”

Yet Kurin was NOT contracted by anyone to search for Lydia’s remains, so why would she even comment on the likelihood that she’ll ever be found? Why crush a family’s hope to locate and bury their young child, without conducting a thorough investigation first? All the more so since forensically and archaeologically, skeletal remains of toddlers were found years, decades, centuries, and even millennia after death. This is not just wrong, this is heartless.

https://oag.ca.gov/missing/person/lydia-sutthithepa
Michael Balter said…
It is odd that after her triumph finding Jack’s remains, Kurin would not now turn to the search for Lydia’s. Of course, she has tenure now so the reward would not be so great.
Anonymous said…
As far as the California Department of Justice is concerned, Jack Cantin is still considered a missing person
https://oag.ca.gov/missing/person/john-michael-cantin
Anonymous said…

“Anonymous said…
I suggest one of the bioarchaeologists who follows this blog volunteers to ‘peer review’ Danielle’s work, since it’s the only thing preventing Jack from being laid to rest.”

I’d be careful with that. We’ve seen plenty of so-called “scholars” lurking around these parts and who are more than willing to lie, cheat and sell their grandmothers just to support the abusers or prove their victims wrong.
Anonymous said…
It seems to me like some things were uttered to the press in the spur of the moment and prematurely, perhaps in an attempt to placate the family, the students, or UCSB. This statement for one:

“Both Cantin and Kurin said the bones had thermal burns, indicating Jack dies instantly from a traumatic electrical or fire injuries”

https://youtu.be/Xc6phZnrK5o?t=75

Depending on their location, thermal burns on the bones can certainly point to the cause of death, but instantaneous death is often extremely hard to prove even in the best of cases and particularly after bones had been in the ground for an extended period of time. I too would be looking forward to Kurin’s report and learn more about what brought her to this and other conclusions.
Anonymous said…
You would also have to show beyond doubt that the thermal burns were not caused postmortem, such as caused by a wildfire or a lightning bolt.
Michael Balter said…
And as someone pointed out above, you would also have to show that the bones were not burned deliberately so that it would be difficult to obtain DNA from them. Is there any indication that Kurin sent bone samples to DNA labs to see if she could get a match with Jack’s living relatives, his mother and sister? If so she has not said that.
Anonymous said…
Maybe someone else already commented on this, but what I don’t get is why announce it to the world as a done deal, and THEN send it to peer-review? Kind of beats the purpose of scientific due diligence, no?
Anonymous said…

Another thing that pisses me off is the nonsense she fills her students’ heads with, which in turn they regurgitated back to the press.

https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-anthropology-students-helped-in-search-for-montecito-teens-remains

The preservation of infants’ skeletons is only partly dependent on size and overall mineral density. More often than not, it is the specific soil chemistry and particular conditions at the time of internment and following that would determine the state of preservation. (even with XRF guns I doubt that the survey team characterized the soil chemistry and all other taphonomic factors throughout the entirety of the affected region. That would take years!)

Case in point, the very recent human burial reported from Panga ya Saidi in Kenya, is of a child about the same age as Lydia Sutthithepa. It is also the oldest known human burial in Africa, dating to 78,000 years ago.
Anonymous said…
She’s been calling herself an expert forensic anthropologist for years:

‘Kurin, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at UCSB and a specialist in forensic anthropology..’

https://www.news.ucsb.edu/2013/013852/ancient-cranial-surgery

The definition of a forensic anthropologist:

‘...forensic anthropology is the examination of human skeletal remains for law enforcement agencies to help with the recovery of human remains, determine the identity of unidentified human remains, interpret trauma, and estimate time since death.‘

https://fac.utk.edu/what-is-forensic-anthropology-2/

How does a ‘specialist’ like Danielle Kurin utterly fail to follow basic protocol under the law?

And what does her employer UCSB have to say about one of their tenured faculty advertising herself this way?




Anonymous said…
LOL at the ‘UCSB Forensic Anthropology’ signage glued to the students’ hazard vests in the KSBY article photo. That, and the title ‘Forensic Field Assistant’ given to untrained undergrads. Such typical DK bullshit.

UCSB better watch out: they’re being falsely promoted as a center for forensic anthropology, when in fact they are nothing of the sort. What a fucking clown show.

https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-anthropology-students-helped-in-search-for-montecito-teens-remains
Anonymous said…
Per the Montecito Journal article linked by a previous commenter, apparently household items were found around the remains recovered, so it may be that Jack Cantin was recovered. I do hope so for the Cantin family. This does not answer the other pertinent questions asked in this forum:
Were the remains removed without coroner approval?
Why is the missing persons cases still open?
Why has DK's final report not been finished at this point given the apparent recovery of Jack Cantin's remains over Memorial Day weekend?
Why hold a press conference to announce the discovery before notifying the authorities and/or coroner's office?
Does DK have the credentials to call herself a forensic scientist/forensic anthropologist?
Were undergraduate students properly protected from exposure to toxic materials during this search? In the KSBY online article, the students in the picture are not wearing PPE.
Why the statement that Lydia Sutthithepa's remains cannot/will not also be found when only 3 years have passed, and her family lived 150 yards from the Cantin family?


https://www.montecitojournal.net/2021/08/05/jack-brought-us-all-together-after-42-months-community-finds-its-lost-son/

https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-anthropology-students-helped-in-search-for-montecito-teens-remains
Anonymous said…
What would the chances be of DK and her team finding the remains of Jack? Hundreds of people were looking for him and others for weeks (months?). I live in the SB area and remember this being a huge effort. I can't imagine that the small UCSB team would be moving that much dirt. It would be miraculous if they did find Jack, but I am starting to have suspicions...
Anonymous said…
To Anonymous November 4, 2021 at 3:01 AM, according to Kurin herself, there was less than a 10 percent chance of finding Jack Cantin. https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-students-join-search-efforts-for-missing-mudslide-victims-in-montecito She sure is lucky to find him right when she needed a PR win to pressure UCSB into giving her tenure. UCSB and Kurin milked the incident as much as possible. UCSB admin is completely complicit in enabling legally questionable behavior.

Given Kurin’s record of pathological dishonesty, one needs to verify even simple facts like whether she had indeed found artifacts from his bedroom.
Anonymous said…
What is up with the "10 percent chance" and "90 percent sure?" It sounds like she is just trying to quantify a bunch of BS.

I really hope that we get more details about what is going on with this soon.
Anonymous said…
10% chance + 90% sure = 100% fraud
Anonymous said…
ICYMI
https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/ucsb-students-join-search-efforts-for-missing-mudslide-victims-in-montecito
“The UCSB student researchers are planning more excavation work this year. The team appreciates donations of gardening tools and PPE. To make a donation or give a financial gift, contact the UCSB Anthropology Department.”

This department never ceases to amaze me. They willingly volunteer their students to do the hard work (one which eventually only promote the university), but when it comes to facilitating the search or protecting the students, well obviously the community should pay for it.
Anonymous said…
Michael,

Is there a way to know if this is being actively investigated by the Department of Anthropology, UCSB, or the Sheriff's office? What can concerned citizens do? We want to know if/where the human remains are, and make sure they are not Native American, and that she did not plant them there.

Does the American Association of Physical Anthropologists or the Society for American Archaeology know about the unethical ways the human remains were treated? There may be some repercussions that could have her kicked out of these organizations.

Michael Balter said…
In response to the last comment:

The Sheriff’s office is investigating all aspects of this situation; UCSB is reportedly looking into it although I do not have details about that investigation; and some local press in Santa Barbara is looking into it as well.

Kurin’s CV includes a list of professional organizations she belongs to, which include the AABA (as it is now called) and the SAA.

https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/e72bdcc5-1a02-49b8-9727-1db180d76af9/Kurin_Bio-Bibliography_last%20edit_Sept_15_2020.pdf

Anyone concerned has a perfect right to make complaints or otherwise bring ethical issues to the attention of professional organizations should they wish to do so. (Btw, note that Kurin’s CV is posted on the same server as the NASW Ethics Complaint and the Akshay Sarathi declaration in the Kurin v. Balter lawsuit, both of which include blatantly false allegations.)
Anonymous said…
Img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go is just Go Daddy’s url for documents uploaded to a website. It’s not someone’s secret server. If you google img1.wsimg.com you’ll get literally thousands of documents from all over the web.
Anonymous said…
https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/994b772f-46a8-4cfe-ad29-fac483a63e17/Akshay%20Sarathi%20Declaration.pdf

Yes,it’s go daddy’s (a website and domain name provider) server, but given how many services are out there, having the same service and server is another line of evidence that Kurin put these documents up. Her numerous websites also use this server (look at page source).
Anonymous said…
Anyone who poses on twitter as a cat who eats peoples’ faces is surely qualified to help police solve crimes. Why, this is the first thing they teach you at Forensic Anthro 101 down at Crazy State University.
Anonymous said…
Any updates?
Anonymous said…
I cannot get over how craven legal counsel is in educational institutions. Their go to strategy is to conceal the abuses and side with the employees. They fear the abusers more than the victims and they are very image conscious. Of course, this strategy never works out in the long term. Just look at the Catholic church, the Tyndall and Nassar cases. It will eventually come out, unfortunately after dozens if not hundreds more victims. Either you do the right thing now and pay a little, or cover it up and pass the buck and pay a lot later. Because there is no incentive for legal counsel to face present difficulties, since they won’t get fired even when their universities cough up billion dollar settlements to victims, they will always cover up, stonewall, and pass the buck. I also think that legal counsel in higher ed tends to be in the bottom 25 percent of law school graduates since unis, especially public ones, generally do not pay well. They have no backbone and no long term thinking. I think the Kurin case will see some reckoning soon. And if not sooner, then definitely later. If later, more of UCSB admin will be unmasked as enabling and complicit. They deserve all the professional consequences coming their way.
Anonymous said…
The woman has a history of concocting crazy schemes. No one can forget the unhinged sock puppet accounts featuring what she claimed was an entire movement of people devoted to photographing Balter’s book in dumpsters. And then there was the ‘aftpoc.org’ website which posed as a legitimate non-profit dedicated to stopping cyberbullying, replete with stock images and legalese lifted from a yoga business.

Anyone who thinks she’s not capable of a batshit plot to bamboozle a grieving mother for her own benefit doesn’t know DK.
Anonymous said…
Yes! And all that and more ignored, covered up, or straight up endorsed by the good people at the University of Crazy aS Batshit (aka UCSB). Shame on us.
Michael Balter said…
Thanks to the last several commenters for their thoughts. Yes, based on her behavior towards others and towards me, there is literally nothing that Kurin is not capable of doing, no matter how bizarre.

As for updates: The investigations by the Santa Barbara Sheriff and coroner are ongoing as of yesterday, well into their fifth month. It’s always possible Kurin correctly identified the remains of Jack Cantin, but if so it’s odd that the coroner has taken so long to confirm that. Equally likely could be that Kurin will be charged with violating the California Health and Safety Code concerning the handling of dead human remains, but it’s anyone’s guess right now.
Anonymous said…
I completely agree with anonymous @December 2, 2021 at 12:20 AM
Unfortunately, you don’t have to look further than the UC system. Take a look at some of these recent cases-
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-03-06/more-women-sue-ucla-alleged-sexual-abuse-doctor-settlement
https://calemploymentlawupdate.proskauer.com/2020/05/13m-ucla-case-exposes-calif-employment-litigation-flaws/
And this shocking research paper-
https://doi.org/10.5070/M4122046716
Anonymous said…
You are obsessed with Danielle. You are a bad guy no matter what she is. Let us discuss or will you moderate
Michael Balter said…
Given how much damage Kurin has done to so many people, someone needs to be obsessed with her. It might as well be me.
Michael Balter said…
Oh, I should have mentioned, there are a number of people who seem very obsessed with me! The last commenter may well be one of them. If some of those folks would put their energies into dealing with abusers, we would see much more progress.
Anonymous said…

Hi Anonymous @ December 18, 2021 at 3:37 PM
Not to steal Balter’s thunder, but I am obsessed with Kurin too (and I also don’t call her “Danielle” because I am not her friend.) And I definitely don’t think I am a “bad guy,” just someone who care enough about her students and the future of our discipline. At the end of the day it’s not so much the person and “what she is” that is the crux of my obsession, as much as the broken system that allowed someone with so many documented ethical and professional violations to continue hold a position of power over others. Let us discuss, or will you retreat back to the shadows?
Michael Balter said…
There’s an anonymous commentor over on Reddit who also keeps repeating that I am obsessed with Kurin.

It’s interesting because that’s what her lawyer repeatedly said to my lawyers during the lawsuit. It’s a motif that originates with her.
Anonymous said…
Oh yeah, the anonymous comments about Balter being ‘obsessed’ with DK on this blog and on Reddit are definitely from her. She’s intentionally misspelling words and using incorrect punctuation to pose as a student.

She’s no doubt trying to cast a cloud of deep suspicion over Balter in an attempt to dissuade other journalists from covering this story. She did the same thing back when the lawsuit was going on, planting stuff online and contacting reporters, in order to kill pieces about her in other publications. Don’t be fooled, folks!
Anonymous said…
I was told by a news person at UCSB that, essentially, their student reporters are barred from covering Danielle because she’s too much of a danger to them.

In other words, a professor who is a danger to students can’t be reported on as being a danger to students because doing so is too much of a danger to students.

The more DK intimidates, the greater the silence at her institution, and she knows this.

Let that sink in.
Michael Balter said…
Re the last comment: This is consistent with my own information, which strongly suggests that the Daily Nexus reporters have been instructed not to cover anything having to do with Kurin nor even to have contact with sources who might help them with such reporting.
Anonymous said…

You know, I always assumed that the childish and sloppy writing style of some zealot pro-Kurin comments – here and on social media – were authored by one of those freshmen she “groomed for success” and who haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the university’s writing lab.
Then I saw some of her emails and other examples of non-academic writing and BOOM! That punctuation (or lack of it) … the grammatical errors … the run-on sentences … even the typos, it was all there. The communications I am referring to came directly from her and were about admin issues, so there were no pretenses or attempts to pass as someone else. At best, she wrote as if she truly believes her colleagues do not deserve the courtesy of a coherent paragraph. At worst, she cannot actually compose one.
Whether the above commenter is her or not, I would strongly recommend a visit to this office on campus:
Campus Learning Assistance Services
3210 Student Resource Building
https://clas.sa.ucsb.edu/
Anonymous said…
“ I was told by a news person at UCSB that, essentially, their student reporters are barred from covering Danielle because she’s too much of a danger to them.”

Apparently this directive did not apply to positive reporting on Kurin:
https://dailynexus.com/2021-07-22/remains-of-missing-teen-killed-in-2018-montecito-debris-flow-located-with-help-of-ucsb-anthropologist/

https://dailynexus.com/2020-08-23/that-anthro-podcast-shines-a-spotlight-on-ucsb-anthropology-department/

Michael Balter said…
It is true that there is no ban on the Daily Nexus doing positive reporting on Kurin. They were allowed to do one story on the Kurin v. Balter lawsuit, but no more. They did not even cover it when the lawsuit was settled.

Now, it appears that they are banned from covering the questions that have been raised by the Sheriff’s investigation of the Jack Cantin matter, which has been going on for five months as of today. If Kurin is charged with violating the CA Health and Safety Code regarding the handling of human remains and the obligation to report when they are found, will the Daily Nexus cover that? It remains to be seen. Same question about the university’s internal investigation of the Jack Cantin matter, which is ongoing, and the eventual results of that.
Anonymous said…
I cannot get over how dishonest Scher and Kurin were during the lawsuit. In the letters they submitted to the judge, they basically argued that what Kurin was sanctioned for was incredibly mild and not really retaliation. That all she said was that a student’s achievements would precede her (wrong idiom by the way). Not only is this incredibly dishonest because it did not represent the full range of her retaliation during the Title IX investigation, it is also a lie of omission. The full email, sent after investigations had initiated, is chilling. The tone is exactly the kind of “how dare you, do you know who I am?” tone that Kurin has used on numerous occasions.

Here is the full email Kurin sent to the Gomez/Kurin victim:

“Thanks [redacted].
It sounds like you had an awful time on the project. I had no idea. As a graduate student especially, the professional and mature thing to do would have been to relate your grievances to me in the field. That way they could have been addressed immediately.

For instance, I did not know you were a vegetarian because you never told us, even when we solicited that information specifically. Also, we were unaware that you thought there wasn’t enough food. Why didn’t you get a second helping at dinner ([redacted] threw away tons of uneaten dinner every day) or make another sandwich at lunch? Regarding another grievance, I’m sorry you complained that the lab was dirty—but such is the nature of drilling bone in dusty, rural Apurimac—the poorest region in the country. As for the forms you signed, UCSB legal makes all students sign those when they participate in any activity outside campus. I have no control over that either. I won’t address your other complains [sp] for the sake of expediency, but you see my point.”
/continued in next post/
Michael Balter said…
What the previous commenter says is very true.

First, Kurin and Scher presented the court with a large number of falsehoods and outright lies and half-truths (some of commission and some of omission) in their Amended Complaint in the case. I corrected those falsehoods in the Answer I filed with the court when I was still acting pro se.

Then, Kurin would repeatedly lie to Scher when she was caught out with some new information that did not fit her narrative (the blog posts over the months of the lawsuit provide many examples).

Scher would then repeat these lies to my attorneys, sometimes just cutting and pasting what Kurin had obviously written and sending it on. As my attorneys told him at one point, he did not follow his ethical obligation to make sure what he told us and the court was true to the best of his ability. This resulted in Scher making a lot of false statements to the court (eg, that I had been fired from City College of NY, that kind of thing).

Scher’s role was as a hired gun in the case, doing what the Kurins wanted him to do. He was paid by the family, Kurin’s famous father Richard in particular, who was closely involved in the case.

Now she is most likely gaslighting a grieving mother into believing she has found the remains of her missing boy. It’s five months today since Kurin and Kim Cantin publicly announced the alleged find, and the Sheriff is STILL investigating. What gives?
Anonymous said…
/continued from previous post/ Not sure this post went through so resubmitting. If it went through, just delete this one.

Kurin: “Had you read the project info packet, I think all of your complaints would have been addressed. However, I’m most saddened by some of the outright fabrications you related to the esteemed professors at [redacted university]. Should it be necessary, I’ve prepared a docket with evidence that directly refutes your claims and am consulting with legal council [sp] regarding some of the more slanderous and defamatory accusations, as there are about a dozen witnesses who have agreed to submit affidavits on my behalf. You may want to consider retracting some of your less-than-truthful statements (I.e [sic] you were solicited for money at the barbecue we held at the house of [redacted]. But no need to get defensive and start a war. We must handle every situation in a prudent, professional, and dispassionate manner.

I am not angry with you, and I see no need for retribution or anything like that. However, overall, my sense is that you still need to develop the intellectual maturity and wherewithal to complete bioarchaeological research, and are—at this point—unprepared for the vagaries of field-lab work. I hope you develop these skills in the future, as they will serve you well.

Feel free to schedule a phone meeting to clear the air, but as far as I’m concerned, the issue is now closed and settled. No hard feelings.

Best of luck this year with your thesis and Graduate school applications. Bioarcheology and forensic archeology are small fields and your achievements will certainly precede you.

Respectfully,
[Redacted]”
Michael Balter said…
One of the more amusing episodes of lying by Kurin and passing on the lies by Scher was when I posted that she was still married to sexual predator Enmanuel Gomez in the eyes of the Peruvian church and close to Gomez’s family, even though she had divorced him in the Santa Barbara court. That post included a photo of them together at their wedding in Andahuaylas. Scher insisted that I had defamed her and that the photo was of a “wedding rehearsal,” not a real wedding.

So then I posted the certificate from the local parish attesting that they had indeed gotten married, and naming the curate who performed the ceremony. The certificate had the official seal of the diocese and was really quite elegant. At that point they wanted to settle the case.
Anonymous said…
“Should it be necessary, I’ve prepared a docket with evidence that directly refutes your claims and am consulting with legal council [sp] regarding some of the more slanderous and defamatory accusations, as there are about a dozen witnesses who have agreed to submit affidavits on my behalf.”

“But no need to get defensive and start a war. We must handle every situation in a prudent, professional, and dispassionate manner.”

In Kurin’s twisted world, preparing a legal docket and soliciting affidavits with the clear intention of suing her student is a non-defensive, dispassionate act. This should tell you everything you need to know about the person.
Anonymous said…
To clarify my comment pertaining to UCSB’s news coverage (or lack thereof) of DK, I had asked a non-student advisor/editor about the latest appalling episode of DK’s behavior, namely her creation of a troll account which included, among other things, veiled death threats and Nazi imagery.

I was told that no student journalist would be allowed to report on it because the risk of intimidation and/or retaliation was too high.

To reiterate: a professor who is a danger to students can’t be reported on as being a danger to students because doing so would be a danger to students.

One has to ask if this is truly the environment Chancellor Yang and the University of California wish to maintain for the young people who rely on them for their safety and well-being.
Michael Balter said…
Or: This professor we gave tenure to so she would have decades of contact with students is a danger to students. That’s what her colleagues have been saying all these years.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous, thanks for sharing. With one statement in that awful letter I completely agree with:
“It sounds like you had an awful time on the project.”

But this one I find just ridiculous:
“I’m sorry you complained that the lab was dirty—but such is the nature of drilling bone in dusty, rural Apurimac—the poorest region in the country.”

As any self-respecting bioarchaeologist will surely agree, the cleanliness of one’s field lab has nothing to do with how poor the region or country is. It is only a reflection of how poorly the lab director keeps it clean. I have seen some of the most immaculate households in rural areas so, if anything, I find that statement to be borderline racist and reflects on how poor of an anthropologist DK really is.
Anonymous said…
“Should it be necessary, I’ve prepared a docket with evidence that directly refutes your claims and am consulting with legal council [sp] regarding some of the more slanderous and defamatory accusations, as there are about a dozen witnesses who have agreed to submit affidavits on my behalf.”

This is clearly intimidation. It’s also untrue. I highly doubt she had 12 people agree to do an affidavit (unless they are her sockpuppets) since the only two witnesses she could muster in her favor in the end were the two Peruvian letters we saw earlier on the blog, one was a family member and the other was a subordinate of Gomez. https://michael-balter.blogspot.com/2020/08/peruvians-provide-testimonials-on.html?m=1 The title ix office even found these letters inadmissible, for good reason. The sad thing is, this brazen kind of lying intimidation /has/ worked for Kurin more often than not. It’s only when people call her on her bluff and go all the way that it’s revealed she is bluffing. In the meantime, she uses every dirty trick to vex and intimidate, especially her batshit sockpuppets. So far, she has had at least 5 different sockpuppets, 3 on twitter and 2 on reddit. She even posed as Hilary Leathem in one of her twitter sockpuppets. Not to mention all her vulgar anonymous comments on this blog.
Michael Balter said…
I can confirm that Kurin did not submit affidavits from students defending her conduct. In fact, at a certain point Kurin refused to continue cooperating with the Title IX investigation.
Michael Balter said…
PS--Some fools posting on this blog have cited the fact that I often respond right away to comments as evidence that I am writing all the comments and engaging in some kind of call and response. In fact, as other bloggers will know, with a moderated blog the host receives notice of a post by email and can then approve the post for immediate publication. So if I am online I see posts right way.
Anonymous said…
“Some fools” = Debby Sneed, Danielle Kurin, both of whom have used multiple sockpuppets themselves. They doth protest too much. Balter is far too proud of his writing to not get credit for everything he writes, lol. This is the guy who shamelessly tweets unfunny masturbation jokes under his own name, after all.
Anonymous said…
Also, if he was writing anonymous comments, then why do the Avilla posts have so few comments? You would think that this recent big development, televised on a major TV program and mentioned in Science magazine, would surely be full of anonymous fanmail written by Balter? Why is it that these accusations show up mainly on Kurin’s posts? Amateur psy ops by Kurin, surely. And malicious tendentiousness by Sneed.
Michael Balter said…
For those who do not know Debby Sneed, she is an early career archaeologist in California who has indeed formed an unhealthy obsession with me. She wrote to my attorneys in an effort to get them to drop me in the Kurin case, wrote an anonymous blog post attacking me (full of falsehoods), and created a sock puppet Twitter account to attack me as well. For that she is praised by a few gatekeeping anthropologists who have been trying to stop my reporting for several years.
Anonymous said…
For Sneed, all her grandstanding for the Clancy crowd has served her well, as her research has been covered extensively by the news, especially Science. I would not be surprised if Clancy, with all her journalism connections, has helped her in some way with this, as the research itself has many logical errors. But this is the age of Trumpian academia, after all. Just pick a topic that is trendy with current concerns, argue it tendentiously, cherry pick the evidence, and voila! Don’t forget to suck up to Clancy first so that it can be covered by the press!
Anonymous said…
I keep wondering what those who are writing comments about “Balter is writing his own comments” are really trying to claim here? That the info provided in these comments is false? Well, this could also be the case with any comment written by other anonymous readers (like the ones about Balter writing his own comments). And why would Balter even differentiate between those comments that he already signs on, from those that he allegedly writes anonymously? If the information provided is factual or verifiable, why not put it in his actual blog post where it will get larger exposure? Or perhaps they are trying to convince us that he’s a lone wolf who talks to himself, and nobody else really cares about those issues or specific offenders? Well, I would say that all the other blogs that I read, infinite social media accounts, peer-review articles, news coverage, conference sessions, statements from professional organizations, whisper networks, etc. etc. etc. argue to the contrary. And besides, if Balter is the only one who comments here, who are they writing their critical comments for, if not for the many interested people who visit (and yes, comment on) this blog? None of this makes any sense, so I am actually curious to know what goes through these people mind.
Anonymous said…

The fact that these people even dare to imagine that no one else other than Balter would bother to comment on such critical issues is what truly unmasks them as the deluded denialists that they are. It is really that mentality of ‘no one else cares’ that enables the predators out there to do what they do. I therefore invite those who make those claims to stop and reflect on what they are actually achieving.
Michael Balter said…
While we are discussing this, a few things for the record concerning Danielle Kurin and the institutions she has been associated with.

During the lawsuit we received about 4000 pages of records in discovery, most of them from the Institute for Field Research and UCSB.

To avoid months of fighting over these documents, my legal team and I agreed to a court protective order that barred the documents from being released publicly. In almost all cases, there was no real justification for the secrecy, and had the case continued we would have eventually asked the judge to make most or all of them public. What I can say about them is that they not only backed up all my reporting, but revealed many additional details about how IFR and UCSB handled the Kurin matters.

It is frustrating not to be able to discuss the contents of these documents, but the court protective order remains in effect even thought the lawsuit is over. However, it is impossible to delete them from my brain, and this is why Kurin is unlikely to sue me again--this time around we would not have to spend months figuring out what documents existed, because we already know.

I can also say that none of these documents make IFR or UCSB look very good, which is the main reason they tried to keep them hidden and in some cases tried to keep them hidden from us (like the infamous Letter of Censure).

In some cases, however, I will be able to confirm certain facts without having to rely on these documents. Whenever that happens, I will report on them. So this is not over, and with the settlement now null and void, the saga continues.

Finally, those who willingly or unwillingly enable abusers by attacking the reporter who has conducted so many investigations of misconduct will continue to be exposed as well.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/ten-rules-succeeding-academia-through-upward-toxicity

This article explains a lot about UCSB admin’s behavior.

Anonymous said…
That piece sounds like it was written about UCSB and DK.
Anonymous said…
So about IFR, I got this email (on Christmas eve no less!) from “The IFR Team” that solicits me to donate to their scholarship fund for “students who otherwise would not be able to attend a field school.” It also says that the “Board of Governors, Academic Board and community members” donated generously, so I clicked on the provided link where it says that “Our Board of Directors is made up of leading academics from top universities and entrepreneurs who care deeply about evidence-based science and hands-on learning.” In my estimate, those twenty-two leading academics from top universities and entrepreneurs easily make more than 100k a year each and probably closer to 200K. Now here’s the thing- I looked at the website and all their scholarships are marked as closed. So from those $$$2-4 mil. in combined salaries, looks like not even a single cent goes to IFR scholarships. So basically I am being solicited to “check my balances” and part with my hard-earned money in order to fund their students, when they themselves hoard their money. I am no stranger to nonprofit fundraisers and often donated to scholarships, but this is just too bizarre and not to mention dishonest.
Thoughts?
Anonymous said…
https://www.reddit.com/r/UCSantaBarbara/comments/ml2aaq/danielle_kurin_anthropology/ho6v0pg/

why is this thread blocked suddenly. I have comments
Michael Balter said…
Response to the last commenter: The moderator of that thread decided to turn off comments, probably because it was getting kind of nasty. You can make your comments here if you want.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/ten-rules-succeeding-academia-through-upward-toxicity

This article explains a lot about UCSB admin’s behavior.

One of the most widely read articles on university administration of 2019. This explains a lot of behavior at UCLA from all the departments associated with the Interdepartmental Archaeology Program and the Cotsen Institute for many years so this is not surprising given the connection with the IFR Board who learned these strategies in those departments and have been rewarded for it.

Anonymous said…
Thanks for pointing us to this timely NYT opinion article on twitter about enablers and complicity: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/29/opinion/maxwell-epstein-sexual-abuse.html?referringSource=articleShare

This is something that needs to be confronted. I would add that toxic enablers also often play victim when their roles are pointed out. Or even if they are not pointed out, they feel very motivated to defend the accused abuser, even disrupting due process by lending their public and private support to the accused during active investigations. Abusers can only escape the consequences of negative investigation findings with the continued support of their enablers.

Everyone can see a list of people who have continued to support Kurin through all these negative findings and investigative revelations in the acknowledgment section of her newest book on the Bioarchaeology of Disaster. I am not surprised to see UCSB anthro faculty and emeriti be listed in there. There is no way she did not have inside help during her tenure case, and I speculate that due process was not followed. I have heard of no other instance where the admin overturns a negative departmental vote (it is common the other way around, admin overturning positive votes). Something is definitely fishy, and I think there are enablers on the inside at UCSB. The UCSB faculty listed in her acknowledgments are Gurven, Gamble, and Fagan. Does anyone know anything about these characters and how they maybhave helped Kurin?
Michael Balter said…
So, in regards to Kurin’s enablers, re the comment just above.

She does have sympathizers in the department, but they have had little influence over the process. A more powerful force have been those colleagues who know her abuses well and have done their best to try to get rid of her. Those colleagues were obviously decisive in bringing about a departmental recommendation to deny tenure. But both of these camps are small compared to the size of the department. Most faculty members have kept their heads down and stayed out of the fray, which is very typical in academia. The fact that the welfare of vulnerable students is at stake has made little difference, sad to say.

Kurin’s real enablers are to be found at a higher level. They include Chancellor Henry Yang; Kurin’s father, Smithsonian official Richard Kurin; and, during the Kurin v. Balter lawsuit, hired gun attorney David Scher.

Of these, Yang is absolutely key, and had the lawsuit gone on we would have deposed him and tried to figure out why he has been enabling her for all these years (Yang had to approve everything that happened, including the decision not to fire her after the 2016 Title IX.)

We are now in a new situation, where Kurin has apparently involved several students in illegal activity—the failure to report the finding of the human remains to authorities for two full months—and that story is not over. My sources say the university is doing its own investigation.

There will be more to say about all this soon.
Alice said…
What is this

https://twitter.com/metoobalter
Michael Balter said…
Answer: This is one of several abusive sock puppets that Danielle Kurin created during the lawsuit. None of them are currently active although this one is still accessible. In the last one, called CamilleonCroton after one of my cats, Kurin Tweeted 150 times over a few days some of the sickest, most twisted stuff I have ever seen on Twitter. It included an attack on a former student as well. Yet she still got tenure despite this clear evidence of mental instability.
Anonymous said…
Can you put a link to that?
Michael Balter said…
Sure. This is a screen capture of most of the Tweets. After we had this done professionally, Kurin continued to Tweet a few more times, including photos of my book "The Goddess and the Bull" place in dumpsters near her parents' home in Falls Church, VA.

https://mbalter.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/camilleoncroton-full-screen-capture.pdf

As I said, this clear indication of mental instability or psychological issues did not deter UCSB from giving Kurin tenure and allowing her contact with students.

According to sources in the university, one of the conditions of Kurin returning to work after her three year administrative leave was that she undergo an intensive course of psychotherapy. Whether she actually did or not, I do not know.
Anonymous said…
Why would anyone with her credentials waste so much time on something like that. it is very childish. How are you sure it is her
Michael Balter said…
How am I sure it’s her? Because her lawyer told us it was and also told the judge in court filings that are part of the public record in the case.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for bringing up the acknowledgements in Kurin’s new book. Leaving aside for a moment the personal angle, I found it revealing that she does not bother to thank there her former project collaborator and research associate, the Peruvian-Quechua archaeologist Enmanuel Gomez Choque; he is only cited twice in articles coauthored by Kurin and others when she discusses the project he codirected, and is the only one whose first name is abbreviated rather than spelled out like the others. Being married to the guy she probably did know how to spell his full name, so more likely an instance of damnatio memoriae. Not that I necessarily want to see this sexual predator being accredited in print or otherwise, but so much for acknowledging indigenous voices that she touts to her students. Yet she made it a point to thank her dog Cachi and her sister’s dog Kipu.
On the flip side, she claims to have “benefitted from the wisdom of… Ran Boytner, Hans Barnard, and Chip Stanish.” As far as I know none of those “wise” individuals work directly on the bioarchaeology of disaster, the topic of the book, but all three were embroiled in the scandals and coverups we read about involving the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology and the Institute of Field Research. I was made aware that the Cotsen institute helped Kurin with her tenure case by publishing a couple of her most recent peer-review book chapters, albeit those she named were fully aware of her past misconduct and director Willeke Wendrich claimed in public that they dissociated with her.
Sadly, none of this I find particularly surprising. I have seen it in other monographs where the author considers it opportunistic to acknowledge those they still consider potentially beneficial to their career, regardless of their infamy, while tossing aside those who served their purpose or hold little influence in the field.
Michael Balter said…
Thanks to the previous commenter. Over the past year I published numerous pieces of evidence that Kurin had not dissociated herself from Gomez even though they did divorce in the Santa Barbara court where they were married in early 2016. The evidence is clear that they are still married in the eyes of the Peruvian Catholic Church and probably also in the eyes of Gomez’s family. The big question now is whether the UCSB administration and the anthropology department will exercise due diligence and not allow Kurin to take students down to the Andahuaylas region if there is any chance they could come into contact with Gomez, whose sexual predation never ceased over all the years that Kurin was partnered with him.
Anonymous said…
Right, she probably deliberately avoided mentioning his name because she knew he was a persona non grata at UCSB.
Wendrich is supposed to be a mandated reporter. Instead, by keeping her mouth shut to avoid lawsuits she became a harasser-passer for Gomez, Kurin, Boytner and who knows who else.
Anonymous said…
https://www.californialawreview.org/eyes-wide-shut-using-accreditation-regulation-to-address-the-pass-the-harasser-problem-in-higher-education/
Michael Balter said…
Thanks for the law review article, I’m sure all here will read that with interest.

As for Willeke Wendrich and mandatory reporting:

I have said before, and I will say it again, that Willeke lied both to me and to the UCLA community when she said that she and IFR were not aware of the 2016 Title IX; and she lied to me when she said that IFR had let it be known widely that Kurin had been kicked out of the organization in fall 2018 after Gomez assaulted yet another student and the IFR conducted an investigation. In fact there is no evidence that Willeke and IFR informed the UCSB Title IX office, as they were required to do, nor that they informed the UCSB anthropology department. Please remember that during the Kurin v. Balter lawsuit we received thousands of pages of documents from UCSB and IFR that were put under a court protective order. Although I cannot reveal what was in those documents in detail, what I can is that they back up 100% all of the statements that I have made about Kurin, Wendrich, IFR, etc, including the statements made just above.
Anonymous said…
DK has resigned!? Looking forward to learning more; hopefully this means sometime soon I can direct students to UCSB for graduate school.
Lee Rudolph said…
Would it be correct to assume that, immediately upon tenure, her salary was bumped up; and that her CalPers pension was recalibrated to take her new salary into account?
Michael Balter said…
Using a Reddit sock puppet, Kurin did brag about getting a big raise. Don’t know about the pension issue. She is in her late 30s and there is no mandatory retirement age at the U of Calif, so she threw away about 40 years of a highly paid tenured position. Her enablers should be very proud of themselves…
Anonymous said…
“DK has resigned!? Looking forward to learning more; hopefully this means sometime soon I can direct students to UCSB for graduate school. “

I absolutely wouldn’t, anonymous!
If you followed closely, what UCSB has demonstrated throughout this wretched case -- on all administrative levels -- is that they are willing to sacrifice the safety of their students just to avoid getting sued by their faculty. Yesterday it was Kurin, tomorrow it will be someone else. The weather at Santa Barbara is nice, sure, but when it comes to the welfare of my students there are plenty of other, better schools out there with stronger code of ethics and moral fibre.

Anonymous said…
Not that they'll ever admit to it, but we have to consider that this was their plan all along. The dep doesn't really want her, but instead of them firing her and risking another lawsuit, she gets to keep her academic record (relatively) clean and voluntarily "quit" as an associate professor. This is what would negotiate if I were in her shoes.
The real question is what next for Dr. Kurin? I agree that no other university will touch her now, so maybe a top research position at the Smithsonian Institution?
Michael Balter said…
In an upcoming blog post, which I hope to finish in a day or two, I will get into these questions using what one might call informed speculation. The question of why UCSB gave Kurin is key, and I I think I can provide some insights into that. As for Kurin’s resignation, no one anywhere is going to consider it voluntary, because the university was investigating the Montecito mudslide matter (and possibly other issues) at the time of her resignation. While Kurin could have sued if they had not given her tenure, and almost certainly would have, for reasons I will discuss later she did not really have that option in case of a dismissal based on new misconduct charges. The key to what has happened lies there, I believe.

Also, the Sheriff has yet to announce the results of its investigation, which it will have to do once it is closed—or, respond to California Public Records Act requests about it, which will come from several directions including me of course. There are a range of possibilities, none of them very good for Kurin and her reputation. That’s because we already know that she violated the law and professional ethics in the handling of the remains and involved students in that illicit activity. Keep your eyes on the news concerning those issues.
Michael Balter said…
Gave Kurin tenure, sorry.
Anonymous said…
https://youtu.be/kPIdRJlzERo
Anonymous said…
I wonder if the IFR is holding their executive directorship open in hopes of securing Danielle Kurin for the position then.

https://remoteweekly.ai/portal/job/103708--ifr-executive-director/
Anonymous said…
Danielle, whenever you author yet another of your deranged sock puppets (as you appear to be doing, once again), all anyone can really think is, ‘How fucking childish.’

You’re pushing forty, sis. Time to grow up.
Anonymous said…
Re: recommending UCSB for future grad students. There is ample evidence beyond Kurin that demonstrates the school's complete lack of interest in student welfare. Thinking especially of that mega-dorm designed by a billionaire with no windows. Or actually any of the university housing, be it the ant-infested, crumbling family-student housing or the recently built, cheaply constructed faculty houses on wetlands drainage that new faculty are convinced are a deal (p.s. the university owns the land, so faculty are basically renting). Not that universities generally care about their students and employees, but I've seen way better.
Anonymous said…
Oh—about the housing situation at UCSB? The city of Goleta is suing the University for not living up to its agreement to keep housing in line with admissions and putting too much stress on surrounding communities. Just one more reason why #YangNeedsToGo

On December 10, 2021, the City of Goleta filed a lawsuit against UCSB for breach of the 2010 Long Range Development Plan Settlement Agreement which ensured that the pace of UCSB’s growth in student population from 20,000 to 25,000 would be matched by the construction of on-campus housing. As a result of UCSB’s unmitigated population growth and ongoing negative impacts on Goleta’s housing shortage, the City had no choice but to resort to litigation to compel UCSB to abide by its promise.

The Goleta City Council has directed its attorneys to file a lawsuit against UCSB for failing to provide student housing for its burgeoning student population. The announcement was made at a public City meeting on Friday, November 5th.

City of Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte stated, “I am disappointed that it has come to this because the City of Goleta has always had a good relationship with UCSB. However, the failure of UCSB to meet its obligations under the 2010 Long Range Development Plan Settlement Agreement to provide housing has made us reach a breaking point.”

In 2010, the City of Goleta, County of Santa Barbara, and UCSB entered into the 2010 University of California, Santa Barbara Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Mitigation Implementation and Settlement Agreement, which can be viewed here. The Agreement settled a dispute over the impacts of UCSB’s 2010 LRDP, which proposed a significant increase in student enrollment, with UCSB promising to build campus housing to mitigate this growth.

UCSB has breached the Settlement Agreement since 2015 by failing to provide sufficient housing for its students. This has had negative repercussions on the City, the most recent being UCSB’s placement of students in hotels in the City, depriving the City of critical tax revenues that are the mainstay of the City’s budget. UCSB students also take up housing in the City of Goleta, thereby decreasing housing supply and increasing housing costs for Goleta’s workforce, such as nurses, teachers, and public safety officers, who are forced to live elsewhere and have to commute to work in the City. Increased enrollment at UCSB also generates a greater demand on Goleta’s public resources and services. There is no foreseeable end in sight for these negative impacts on Goleta.

“UCSB’s currently proposed student housing project, Munger Hall, a 4,500-unit dorm, has recently received harsh scrutiny in the national press. In light of this, we, at the City, are concerned that there may be no certainty as to whether the needed student housing will be built in a reasonable time frame,” Mayor Perotte also said after Friday’s meeting.

After a decade of UCSB’s failure to satisfy its obligations and the negative repercussions on the City, the City has determined that it is necessary to file a lawsuit in order to preserve its rights and require UCSB to finally take meaningful responsibility for the impacts it has created.

https://www.edhat.com/news/goleta-sues-ucsb-over-lack-of-student-housing
Anonymous said…
Has Kurin been investigated by law enforcement either here or in Peru? Do you have any links
Anonymous said…
https://gettr.com/user/jbd2022
Michael Balter said…
Looks like yet another sock puppet.
Anonymous said…
Gettr??? The social media platform favored by the alt-right? Did someone get shut out of twitter for making too many batshit crazy sock puppets??