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‘It’s rampant’: Documents reveal 124 cases of UC employees' sex misconduct

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FEBRUARY 28, 2017

At least 124 cases involving University of California faculty, staff and contractors show the employees were found to have violated UC sexual violence and harassment policy over the past three years at all UC campuses. Among them are award-winning scholars, lauded department chairs and highly paid NCAA coaches.

The Daily Californian obtained hundreds of pages of UC documents Tuesday through a California Public Records Act request. They detail years of unwanted sexual advances, inappropriate comments and physical assaults, spanning from Jan. 1, 2013, to April 6, 2016.

About one-third of those who violated policy are still employed by the UC system.

“It’s important to note that these cases run from January 2013 to April 2016, so most, if not all, of these cases were investigated and adjudicated under policies and procedures that are no longer in effect,” said UC spokesperson Claire Doan. “We’ve made so many drastic and significant improvements over the past two and a half years … that we are able to provide more clarity (and) more fairness … when it comes to these investigations.”

Among the respondents included in the documents, Title IX investigations found:

  • Rudy Thomas, the former director of strength and conditioning in athletics at UC San Diego, was training a female client when he inappropriately touched her breast and genital area. When she said she was uncomfortable and attempted to leave, he hugged and tried to kiss her on the mouth.
  • Gurinder Singh Mann, a professor of Sikh studies at UC Santa Barbara, invited a student up to his bedroom during a meeting for a research project and asked her to lie down on his bed, putting his hand under her shirt.
  • Eric Gans, a professor of French and Francophone studies at UCLA, sent an email to a graduate student that said, “There is no doubt an asymmetry in our affection. … The only girl in all my years I cannot think of without tears.”

All three violated UC sexual misconduct policy, the investigations found.

“It’s rampant,” said Kristen Glasgow, a UCLA graduate student who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the university alleging that history professor Gabriel Piterberg had harassed her, in a November interview with the Daily Cal. “I know more women who have gone through it than who haven’t.”

Seven percent of all cases released Tuesday involved sexual assault. Twenty-five percent of those who violated policy were faculty. Thirty-five percent of the complaints were made by students.

Most of the documents have never been publicly released. The documents shed light on the full scale of sexual misconduct across the UC system — a crisis that has led administrators to resign, students to protest and the UC president to rethink the way the university handles complaints.

Many of the documents were heavily redacted. Information was redacted to reflect “competing public interests,” according to the UC Office of General Counsel. The university did not disclose any reports from ongoing investigations, or from investigations prior to Jan. 1, 2013, stating that such reports would not shed “significant additional light” on the university’s current practices.

“The University recognizes that there is a significant public interest in records that reflect the adequacy of the University’s investigation of and response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence,” the UC Office of General Counsel said in a statement announcing the release of the documents. “However, there are several competing public interests that must also be balanced under the Public Records Act or other relevant statutes.”

The university also highlighted recent reforms to the way it handles complaints, including a 2016 update to the UC sexual misconduct policy and a systemwide peer-review committee to approve any sanctions that involve a “senior university leader.”

Doan added that the university is “committed to and continuously working towards maintaining an environment in which all members of the community are free from harassment and discrimination.”

The Tuesday release comes after reports were disclosed to the Daily Cal in April 2016 that revealed 19 UC Berkeley employees were found to have violated UC sexual misconduct policy since 2011. Those in violation included former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry and former vice chancellor for research Graham Fleming.

The university has faced criticism in recent years for punishments perceived as too light and for a process seen as cumbersome for victims. The case of Tyann Sorrell, Choudhry’s executive assistant, rocked the Berkeley campus in 2016 after news broke that Choudhry had violated UC sexual misconduct policy after repeatedly kissing and hugging Sorrell.

As punishment, then-executive vice chancellor and provost Claude Steele docked Choudhry’s pay by 10 percent for one year and required him to attend counseling and write an apology letter to Sorrell.

The Daily Cal’s most recent PRA request also revealed a case involving Juan Ramos, a former UC Berkeley facilities management employee, that was not disclosed in April 2016. A Title IX investigation found that Ramos had committed a sexual battery on the complainant, whose name was redacted.

The complainant, unaffiliated with the university, alleged that on April 10, 2014, Ramos approached her from behind and asked her for “dollars” while in the Campus Shared Services building. Ramos began to do a “strip tease dance” for her and removed his shirt before grabbing her breasts from behind, the investigation found. The complainant both recorded a video and took a photograph of Ramos from her phone as evidence for the incident.

Ramos later admitted to investigators that he had consumed “marijuana chocolate” before the incident and had been sleeping in the CSS building.

The complainant also alleged that Ramos made various inappropriate remarks to her, starting roughly in January 2014.

Ramos’ employment was terminated, effective Aug. 5, 2014, on the grounds that he had violated UC sexual harassment policy, according to documents.

This is a developing story, and The Daily Californian will provide additional information as it parses through the 124 newly disclosed cases it received Tuesday. Please check back for updates.

Corrections: Because of an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a Title IX investigation found that UCLA professor Gabriel Piterberg had harassed Kristen Glasgow. In fact, Glasgow had alleged that Piterberg harassed her and later settled with the university. A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that professor Eric Gans kept his job at UCLA after he was investigated. In fact, Gans assumed emeritus status with restrictions, according to Tod Tamberg, UCLA's director of strategic communications.
Contact The Daily Californian News Staff at [email protected].

MARCH 01, 2017