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US: UC President wants [ex- Dean] Choudhry banned from Campus

Janet-Napolitano-Article-201603141917By Cheryl Miller, from The Recorder

SACRAMENTO — University of California President Janet Napolitano has ordered former UC-Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry barred from campus for the rest of the semester following allegations that he sexually harassed his executive assistant for months.

In a letter to UC-Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks dated March 11, Napolitano also said that she expects him to launch disciplinary proceedings against Choudhry, who remains a tenured member of the faculty after he resigned as dean on Thursday. Napolitano told Dirks, too, to ensure that all senior leaders on campus, including deans and provosts, are up-to-date on their sexual harassment and sexual violence training and to make plans for all senior managers and administrators to receive additional, in-person training before the fall semester starts.

The UC president’s letter, made public over the weekend, follows a tumultuous week on the Berkeley campus. Berkeley Law executive assistant Tyann Sorrell sued Choudhry and the university on March 8, alleging that the former dean hugged, kissed and massaged her on an almost daily basis without her consent from July 2014 until she took leave in March 2015.

An internal investigation completed in the summer of 2015 concluded that Choudhry, who said the contact amounted to non-sexual displays of gratitude toward Sorrell, had violated the university’s sexual harassment policies. The report also found that Choudhry had not completed mandatory sexual harassment training until after Sorrell filed a campus sexual harassment complaint against him.

Initially, UC-Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele allowed Choudhry to keep his job, although his pay was docked by 10 percent and he was ordered to get counseling and write a letter of apology to Sorrell. After news of Sorrell’s lawsuit broke, the university announced that Choudhry had taken a leave of absence. Two days later he resigned as dean.

“I know you appreciate my level of concern about this situation and my unhappiness in learning about it through the media,” Napolitano wrote. “I am confident you are taking steps to address the campus’ failure to keep the UC Office of the President apprised. More important, prompt and effective responses to findings of sexual harassment and sexual violence are key to changing behavior.”

A message left with Choudhry’s attorney, Nanci Clarence of Clarence Dyer & Cohen, was not immediately returned Monday.

Napolitano sent a second letter to all UC campus chancellors on March 11 announcing that she would create a systemwide committee to review all proposed discipline tied to substantiated claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault committed by a senior university official—a clear nod to public criticism that Steele’s initial punishment of Choudhry was too weak.

Dirks and Steele issued a statement Thursday acknowledging the criticism and announcing a campus-wide campaign to strengthen sanctions against sexual harassment.

“The chancellor and the president are on the same page in terms of the need for immediate action to improve the way the university acts to both prevent and impose consequences in regards to sexual harassment,” Dan Mogulof, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, said Monday.

Already reeling from the Choudhry allegations, the university announced Monday that UC-Berkeley’s men’s basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin, has moved to fire assistant coach Yann Hufnagel after the Office of the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination concluded that he violated the school’s sexual harassment policies. Hufnagel was relieved of his duties and will not travel with the team while it competes in the NCAA basketball tournament, the university said.

IMAGE: Janet Napolitano Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

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