19 campus employees violated UC sexual harassment policies in past seven years

Sujit Choudhry, Geoffrey Marcy, Graham Fleming and Yann Hufnagel were all found by the Office for Prevention of Discrimination and Harssment to have violated UC sexual harassment policies. The publicizing of these investigations over the past year have spurred questions about how the campus handles sexual harassment cases.
Sujit Choudhry, Geoffrey Marcy, Graham Fleming and Yann Hufnagel were all found by the Office for Prevention of Discrimination and Harssment to have violated UC sexual harassment policies. The publicizing of these investigations over the past year have spurred questions about how the campus handles sexual harassment cases.

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Update 4/6/16: This story has been updated to reflect new information from OPHD investigation complainants and respondents, as well as campus spokespeople.

As UC Berkeley grapples with a slew of sexual harassment scandals, recently released reports show that 19 UC Berkeley employees were found to have violated university sexual misconduct policy since 2011.

The documents, obtained by The Daily Californian on Tuesday night through a Public Records Act request filed in March, include the results of 11 investigations into 12 campus employees by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination that were previously not made public. Of those investigations, three of the respondents resigned, four were terminated and four were given punishments varying in harshness from suspension to a letter of warning. Additionally, one disciplinary proceeding regarding campus assistant professor Blake Wentworth is still pending.

Six of the 17 investigations involved a faculty member or other academic employee accused of misconduct, with the other 11 involving staff. In addition, documents show that for seven of the 17 cases, the complaining individuals were current or former students.

Misconduct cases that OPHD investigated included a range of different types of sexual harassment, from a former Cal Dining general manager comparing his penis to the size of a 12-inch chef knife in front of colleagues in 2015 to a former RSF massage therapist rubbing the bare skin of an undergraduate student’s vagina during a session in 2014.

Faculty members with administrative positions who were found to have violated university sexual harassment policy since 2011 — such as former Berkeley Law dean Sujit Choudhry and former vice chancellor for research Graham Fleming — resigned from their administrative positions but remain faculty members at UC Berkeley. Excluding Wentworth, faculty members without administrative positions investigated in the last five years resigned after OPHD substantiated allegations against them.

In all four cases that resulted in termination, the fired employee was a campus staff member.

The documents released Tuesday number more than 400 pages recording investigation interviews, evidence and disciplinary sanctions against those found to have violated the university sexual harassment policy in the last five years. Though heavily redacted, they detail graphic emails, texts and statements of unwelcome sexual behavior and crude language.

The release of documents comes after several high-profile faculty and staff members were revealed to have violated university sexual harassment policies, forcing UC Berkeley and the larger UC system to re-evaluate how they handle such allegations. After an investigation in June found that famed astronomer and campus professor Geoffrey Marcy violated such policies but was not formally disciplined, UC President Janet Napolitano created a joint committee to review how the university handles harassment cases between faculty and students.

On March 8, Choudhry’s then-executive assistant Tyann Sorrell filed a lawsuit against Choudhry and the UC Board of Regents for sexual harassment. Choudhry subsequently resigned after backlash from students and faculty over his behavior and original punishment, seen by many as too mild given the allegations. Less than one week later, termination proceedings began against Cal men’s basketball assistant coach Yann Hufnagel after he was found by a campus investigation to have violated UC sexual harassment policy.Print

“I’m shocked at what appears to have been a deliberate suppression of years of sexual abuse and harassment information on the part of executive level at UC Berkeley,” Sorrell said in a Wednesday statement after the OPHD reports were released. “I worked on that campus since 2012 and never heard anything about any of these cases.”

The revelations, which left the UC Berkeley community reeling, precipitated sweeping campus action. On March 24, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced a series of reforms to the handling of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which include granting OPHD more resources to speed the process of investigations, totaling millions of dollars over the next several years.

Then, on Tuesday, Dirks announced a new committee on campus sexual misconduct tasked with reviewing campus adjudication and sanctioning practices regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence against campus students, staff and faculty, among other policies.

(The recent release of reports) really doesn’t alter the picture. … This is just new information,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof. “There are obviously things that campus leadership was aware of, and (it’s) part of the reason we’ve announced all the things we’ve announced and acknowledged very explicitly that we’ve got work to do.”

Among the subjects of the newly surfaced investigations include Todd Mulzet, the Cal diving coach, who was accused of sexual harassment over the course of more than a year and a half. Mulzet regularly made sexually harassing comments toward the complainant, a male co-worker, according to allegations included in the investigation, many of which were corroborated by a witness. Ultimately, OPHD determined that Mulzet more likely than not violated UC policy on sexual harassment.

Mulzet denied the accusations in an interview with an investigator, alleging that the co-worker spoke out as a form of retaliation because Mulzet had expressed frustration over the co-worker’s job performance.

Though the OPHD investigation was completed Nov. 11, it took more than a month for associate athletic directors Jennifer Simon-O’Neill and Jay John to issue any discipline. Mulzet was sanctioned by a reduction in pay of 5 percent over two months — constituting $455.30 — in lieu of suspension. While a no-contact directive for the co-worker was discussed, the complainant rejected it as an option, saying that he would still be able to perform his work as required given that Mulzet “no longer made sexual comments towards him.”  

The other staff members investigated included a custodian who resigned after being accused of watching a student while she showered; two superintendents suspended after being found to have made sexualized comments about an employee in her absence; a painter fired after allegedly being caught engaging in sexual activity in a vacant University Village apartment; a researcher who resigned after a co-worker reported being inappropriately touched by him; and Nori Castillo, the co-founder of Skydeck, who had his employment contract terminated last month after OPHD concluded that he more likely than not subjected a co-worker to “unwelcome attention of a sexualized nature.”

“I’m shocked at what appears to have been a deliberate suppression of years of sexual abuse and harassment information on the part of executive level at UC Berkeley.”

— Tyann Sorrell

A 2015 investigation of former adjunct faculty member Howard D’abrera found that his conduct toward one of his statistics students was unwelcome, of a sexual nature and interfered with the student’s education. According to the investigation, which concluded Dec. 16, D’abrera repeatedly emailed the student with invitations to Hawaii and other far-off locales and brought up the subject of orgies, and he threatened the student with a lower grade in the class if the student did not accept the invitation.

D’abrera was placed on administrative leave Sept. 14, the same day the complaint was sent to OPHD. One day later, D’abrera sent an email to the student telling him to “picket (the statistics department chair’s) office every hour until he rescinds his ban” on D’abrera, adding that “this is off the record and I never emailed you at all.”

D’abrera resigned Jan. 15, though a disciplinary letter was sent Dec. 18 stating the campus’s intent to dismiss D’abrera effective Jan. 18. Telling OPHD investigators that “he would not have a reason to proposition someone sexually,” D’abrera has contested the campus’s approach to handling accusations after the Marcy incident.

The problem now is that after that astronomy professor who really was guilty of harassment, every time a student makes an allegation of sexual harassment, (the campus) automatically assumes the student is right and the professor or admin person is dismissed,” D’abrera said in an interview with the Daily Cal. “Now that can’t be fair, because a student who doesn’t like their grade — all they have to do is say, ‘This professor touched me on the knee,’ and the guy is out.

An investigation from the Disabled Students’ Program that concluded Sept. 20, 2011, found that former student disability specialist Scott Anderson sent several inappropriate emails to a student in the program with sexual innuendo and sexual jokes in 2008 and 2009. In July 2009, after the complainant wrote an email that said, “Kiss my ass,” Anderson responded, “Kiss it? Only after I spanked it. Always cute.” He resigned six days later.

Anderson could not recall several of these inappropriate emails, according to the investigation. The ones he could remember were often “an attempt to humor her, to lift her spirits up,” Anderson told investigators, adding that they were in response to the “commerce of language that she brought to bear.”

“The fact that all of these findings of sexual harassment were hidden sends a terrible message to potential perpetrators — that you can get away with sexual harassment and any discipline against you will be swept under the carpet,” said Sorrell’s attorney, John Winer, in a Wednesday statement after the 11 OPHD reports previously not made public were released.

None of the respondents involved in the newly released OPHD reports, aside from D’abrera, could be reached for comment.

The campus and university are slated to roll out a number of sexual harassment measures in the coming months. Campus employees will be required to complete a new sexual harassment training course by May 1. The newly announced chancellor’s committee will bring recommendations to Napolitano and Dirks by Oct. 15.

Contact Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, Katy Abbott and Melissa Wen at [email protected].

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  • garyfouse

    They need to start firing chancellors.

  • John Smith

    If all of the incidents were investigated like the Hufnagel case, who knows how many ACTUAL incidents there were. One year, 900 text messages between Hufnagel and his accuser, and Cal investigators apparently didn’t bother to read them.

    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2016/04/04/cal-assistant-coach-refutes-sexual-harassment-accusation/

    Perhaps if they had been concerned about the facts, they might have reached a different conclusion. Seeing as how they released their report *before* completing their (evidently shoddy) investigation though, it’s pretty clear they didn’t much care much about the facts.

    Instead, they chose to make this public one week before the NCAA tournament; a move that seems calculated to do the most damage to the basketball team and head coach as possible. All, we can observe, without a peep from our Athletic Director who has been completely MIA in all of this.

    So … we have an “investigation” which dragged on for a year without ACTUALLY investigating all the facts … THEN a rush to judgement timed to destroy the basketball team; all by the *Cal* administration. Kind of makes you A) wonder WHY, and B) question the thoroughness and credibility of the other cases, too.

    This is not the University’s proudest hour. More importantly, when the wrongful termination suit comes — and it no doubt *will* — it might very well be Cal’s costliest hour. Oh, and about those harassing phone calls begging for donations? At least THIS alum won’t be picking up the phone.

  • disqus_fnwCMQDX7u

    gross, pathetic messages and actions with looks to match. puketastic.

  • Becky Newsom

    ATTENTION WOMEN: “Lean in” at UC and you’ll get groped!

    • Resident

      This is hyperbole with an element of truth.

  • Becky Newsom

    Another classic by “Squirrels” Mogulof: “(The recent release of reports) really doesn’t alter the picture. … This is just new information…” No, sexual harassment is simply more pervasive than you imagined. Nothing to see here, move along. In these times, accountability has become so quaint. Just go ask Choudhry and John “Torture Memo” Yoo over at the law school.

    • Resident

      What? Torture? Harassment? Look–a squirrel!

    • lspanker

      Poor little Becky is worried that we might be treating terrorists and illegal combatants badly. Give her a gold star.

      • Resident

        Terrified little lspanker is worried that our vaunted legal system and the constitution he claims to believe in can’t handle real criminals or terrorists, so we should throw our laws away, despite no evidence that torture has produced any useful intelligence that couldn’t have been obtained more quickly and accurately by legal means. That’s also why the CIA used completely inexperienced and inept personnel to interrogate the prisoners, most of whom had no connection to terrorism. Terrified little lspanker is unaware that the real reason for torture was to extract false evidence to retroactively justify our invasion of Iraq:
        http://www.democracynow.org/2014/12/23/ex_bush_official_us_tortured_prisoners

        • lspanker

          Terrified little lspanker is worried that our vaunted legal system and the constitution he claims to believe in can’t handle real criminals or terrorists, so we should throw our laws away

          You’re apparently one of those ignoramuses who think the US Constitution applies to illegal combatants captured on a foreign battlefield, when it certainly does not. I don’t suppose you have any military experience, or you would have known that under the Geneva Conventions, detainees during time of war are subject to the military code of the detaining country, which in the case of the US is the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).

          That’s also why the CIA used completely inexperienced and inept personnel to interrogate the prisoners, most of whom had no connection to terrorism.

          Given that quite a few of those who have been released have been caught later on participating in terrorist activities, it’s clear that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Oh well, what can you expect from a Berkeley liberal who has in all likelihood never been anywhere outside his little bubble world?

          • Resident

            Show us where the UCMJ and the Geneva conventions authorize us to torture prisoners, specifically for the purpose of extracting false confessions, which as everyone knows or should know, is the only reason any government ever resorts to torture in the first place. It never has any legitimate purpose. It’s primarily a propaganda tool for weak and desperate regimes and dictators. Show us the useful information that was extracted from our torture victims that couldn’t have been obtained through legal means, without torture. Go ahead and claim that waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions resulting in death, and rectal “feeding” aren’t torture; no one will believe you–except perhaps John Yoo and a bunch of your fellow wingnuts.

            “Given that quite a few of those who have been released have been caught
            later on participating in terrorist activities, it’s clear that you
            don’t know what you’re talking about.”

            A small number of released prisoners have gone on to participate in terrorism–that’s essentially a non sequitur and doesn’t change the fact that the CIA deliberately selected inexperienced and inept interrogators to torture prisoners in U.S. custody, outside the UCMJ, specifically to extract false confessions and to justify a war conducted under completely false pretenses. Perhaps our treatment of them even contributed to their later activities and hatred of the U.S.; our own military and national security leaders admit that our torture policies have been shown to be an excellent recruiting tool for terrorism as well. See how useful it is?

            Now, would you like to return to the subject of sexual harassment with more of your irrelevant and sexist wingnut arguments?

          • lspanker

            Show us where the UCMJ and the Geneva conventions authorize us to torture prisoners

            Where did I make such a claim? I merely mentioned that your beloved terrorists do not have “constitutionally protected rights” because they don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the US Constitution.

          • Resident

            You defended our torture policies by citing international law, which doesn’t authorize torture. If you can’t back up your arguments with the law, then stop citing the law and go away. You seem to love terrorism, since you’re defending torture policies that create more terrorists. I don’t belove any terrorists, as you apparently do–I’m against the use of torture, period, for any reason, because it’s never produced any useful intelligence that couldn’t have been obtained without it, except in TV dramas and Faux News; also I’m against it because it’s illegal, and because it was used primarily for propaganda purposes. But you can go on defending it because it makes you feel better, or return to the subject of the article.

          • lspanker

            You defended our torture policies by citing international law, which doesn’t authorize torture.

            I did nothing of the sort. I merely showed an example of the Left’s screwy sense of priorities, where they are more concerned with the alleged “rights” of detained terrorists than of young college aged men accused of sexual assault. You have made it quite clear where your priorities lie. Live with it.

          • Resident

            These aren’t priorities–they’re not even related to each other. I keep asking you to return to the subject, which you refuse to do. You certainly made a point about your own screwy beliefs about why it’s ok to torture prisoners while deluding yourself about the supposedly exaggerated problem of sexual violence at UC. I’m happy not to defend the use of torture, while you’re happy to defend it and the supposed “victims” of sexual harassment policies–exclusively men, in your delusional world.

  • lspanker

    Funny how the UC administration pursues its war on the constitutional rights of male students when the real problem w/r/t sexual harassment is the administration itself.

    • Resident

      In what alternate universe do you live in where there is a special constitutional right reserved for male students to sexually harass anyone? Galaxy Trump, I suppose. Where in UC’s sexual harassment policy are male students singled out for a “war” on their constitutional rights, and where is there any example of this occurring in the article? Did it ever occur to you that women are equally subject to the rules against sexual harassment, or is it just your knee-jerk reaction to invent male “victims” of the policy? I take your comment to imply that things would be better if the administration simply ignored the problem of sexual harassment on campus, with a “boys will be boys” attitude.

      • lspanker

        In what alternate universe do you live in where there is a special constitutional right reserved for male students to sexually harass anyone?

        Please point out where I suggested such before we continue with this conversation. I would rather reply to someone who is willing to deal with facts than emotions and hysteria.

        Where in UC’s sexual harassment policy are male students singled out for a “war” on their constitutional rights

        When the UC seeks to exclude the participation of law enforcement in the investigation of sexual related crimes, and change the standard of proof from beyond a reasonable doubt to the equivalent of “well, most of us think you did it”, then there is indeed a war on the constitutional rights of male students. Apparently none of the SJWs and perpetually aggrieved feminists have learned a damn thing from the Duke Lacrosse debacle, where faculty and administrators were more than happy to act as judge, jury and executioner before the facts were even known…

        I take your comment to imply that things would be better if the administration simply ignored the problem of sexual harassment on campus, with a “boys will be boys” attitude.

        In other words, you have made up your mind before you know the facts. A good reason why you’re the last person who should go around making accusations of others.

        • Resident

          Since you’ve provided no facts to back up your emotional and hysterical claim about the UC administration’s “war on the constitutional rights of male students,” the onus is on you, not me, bro.

          • Resident

            I see, now that you’ve edited your comment with a smattering of allegations not referenced in the article and a single example from another campus in another state, you still claim that only male students’ constitutional rights are being violated due to a declared “war.” And if you don’t want your comments to be misinterpreted, you should provide some evidence to support them, instead of making wild accusations yourself.

          • lspanker

            What part of “Duke Lacrosse” do you NOT understand?

            Ignoring it won’t make it go away.

          • Resident

            And besides, “Benghazi!” and “Climategate!” Citing one example from another campus in another state doesn’t make sexual harassment go away, either. Write the UC’s policy for us, would you?

          • lspanker

            I see you’re desperately trying to avoid dealing with the fact that what UC and other institutions are doing in the name of Title IX compliance are trying to remove any semblance of legal protections for the accused, which is an invitation for abuse. If you disagree, perhaps you could explain why the Duke Lacrosse incident happened, and what protections are in place so such could never happen in the UC system.

          • Resident

            And you’re desperately trying to avoid citing any examples of such abuse to support your wild allegation of a “war” declared by the UC administration on exclusively male students’ constitutional rights, in order to cater to the “hysterical militant feminist lobby.” By the way, are you aware of how militantly sexist the terminology you’re using is? I’m male, fyi.

          • lspanker

            And you’re desperately trying to avoid citing any examples of such abuse to support your wild allegation of a “war” (blahblahblah….)

            I made my point, and made it quite clearly. The UC system and other universities, in order to comply with Title IX requirements, are trying to appear like they are “doing something” about an overly exaggerated problem (I’m speaking in particular of the so-called “campus rape culture”) that they are not only trying to lower the standard of evidence for seeking punitive action, but actively trying to interfere with the proper role of local law enforcement in investigating such claims. Both of those actions result in a lack of due process for the accused, and in effect violate the rights of said accused. Now you can continue with your feigned indignation and snarky replies all day long for all I care, but those are legitimate concerns, especially in light of the Duke Lacrosse public witch-hunt conducted by the same species of crusading educrats who seek more and more power with no accountability or outside review. In no way am I defending “sexual harassment” or suggesting that those who are found guilty of it upon completion of an investigation by those who have the training and authority to conduct such. I’m merely pointing out how the same administration willing to advocate policies that violate the rights of male college students seem to have their own sexual harassment issues to deal with.

          • Resident

            You still seem to be hung up on the idea that this policy exclusively violates the constitutional rights of only male students, without evidence. How does Title IX violate the rights of male students? Hasn’t it been upheld by the legal system, courts, and constitution you ostensibly believe in? If the single example of overreach on another campus you cited is “proof” of an overly exaggerated problem, then the 19 examples of abuse in the UC system cited in this article could equally be taken as evidence of a vastly underestimated problem.

          • lspanker

            The “vastly underestimated problem” seems to be with the ADMINISTRATORS, not the students.

          • Resident

            Yet you can’t cite any evidence, except one case at another university in another state, to support your claim, while the article presents 19 cases that are surely a tiny subset of the incidents that are the subject of UC’s sexual harassment policy. But you can continue to believe it, because, well, Title IX…and Benghazi…and Climategate.

          • lspanker

            The UC wishes to dispense in due process in order to cater to the hysterical militant feminist lobby. I see you refused to acknowledge how well such an approach went at Duke, so it’s clear you’re here to grind your own axe, not engage in any type of reasonable discussion.

          • Resident

            You’ve certainly convinced yourself of that–just keep ranting about the “hysterical militant feminist lobby.” Everyone will know you’re here for a reasonable discussion.

  • Professor S Freeman

    Do you have the Police Reports?

  • M2000

    The Left continues its war on women.

  • CalAlum99

    There’s about 150k staff and faculty FTEs at UC. 19 over 4 years? Yeah, a real shocker.

    • Resident

      The point of the article is that harassment policies were weak, and even so, they weren’t followed. It would be a shocker if only 19 instances of harassment had occurred in those four years. More likely these reported cases were a small fraction of the actual incidents, but students and staff have been reluctant to report them because their rights wouldn’t be protected and policies wouldn’t be fairly applied, as the article shows has historically been the case. And don’t reply with the meme that the perpetrators are really the victims.