Harassment Accuser Condemns UC Berkeley Deal - Higher Education
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Harassment Accuser Condemns UC Berkeley Deal

by Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. — A woman who sued the University of California and the former dean of UC Berkeley’s law school for sexual harassment is outraged that the school is allowing him to keep his tenured professorship, she announced Saturday.

“This deal insults all who suffer harassment at the hands of those with power and privilege,” Tyann Sorrell said in a statement.

Sorrell was executive assistant to Sujit Choudhry in 2015 when she accused him of kissing and hugging her. The school substantiated the allegations and gave Choudhry a temporary 10 percent pay cut. He resigned as dean and stopped teaching classes but remained a professor.

Under a “privilege and tenure” decision announced Friday, Choudhry will be considered a tenured faculty member on sabbatical until May 31, 2018, when he’ll officially resign. He’ll be able to keep benefits such as travel expenses and research funding.

The school also will withdraw all disciplinary complaints against him, and will not be able to say he acted with sexual intent or posed a risk to faculty, students or staff.

“This is just one more example of UC refusing to take sexual harassment seriously and once again offering a soft landing even after a finding of harassment,” Sorrell’s attorney, Leslie F. Levy, said Saturday.

Sorrell sued the University of California regents and Choudhry over the harassment last year.

A settlement was reached on March 31 but the school didn’t announce the agreement until late Friday before the Easter holiday weekend and school officials said they would not answer further questions.

Details of the settlement with the university weren’t disclosed but Choudhry agreed to donate $50,000 to nonprofit organizations of Sorrell’s choice that deal with sexual harassment and sexual abuse, her attorney said.

He also will pay $50,000 of her legal fees.

Choudhry, who is South Asian, also sued the University of California, alleging that the university had racially discriminated against him in its disciplinary proceedings and attempted to deprive him of his reputation and career.

Choudhry alleged the university opened a second investigation of him for the same conduct after Sorrell filed her lawsuit and reports it had mishandled cases of serious sexual misconduct.

However, Choudhry dropped the lawsuit last year.

“All related litigation has now been dismissed,” the university said in a statement.

Choudhry is among several UC Berkeley employees since 2015 to face sexual harassment allegations substantiated by UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination.

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