UC Regent Norman Pattiz may resign amid sex misconduct allegations

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UC Regent Norman Pattiz, who was recorded asking a female colleague whether he could hold her breasts last year, has said he is considering resignation.

After the UC Board of Regents meeting in November, Pattiz previously said he had no intention of leaving the board, despite increasing demands from UC students. But last week, Pattiz told the San Francisco Chronicle that he is considering resigning, but not because of demands that he do so.

Pattiz became the subject of controversy in October 2016, when a recording from actress Heather McDonald’s podcast “Juicy Scoop” surfaced. In the recording, McDonald is presenting a memory-foam bra for a commercial when Pattiz is heard entering the studio room and complimenting McDonald on recent work. As she finishes a commercial take, McDonald expresses her discomfort with Pattiz’s presence, telling him, “You’re making me nervous.” He then asks her if he could hold her breasts, and despite McDonald’s multiple responses of “no,” he adds that his hands are “memory foam.”

Pattiz could not be reached for comment.

In addition to this controversy, a recent lawsuit was filed against Pattiz that alleged that he brandished a loaded firearm against a former employee after the employee refused to falsify data. Although Pattiz has publicly apologized for his remarks to McDonald, he has denied the allegations in the lawsuit.

Though demands were initially brought forth by student protesters, as well as the ASUC and the University of California Student Association, which have both passed resolutions calling for his resignation, members of the Board of Regents are now also discussing this matter.

“I’ve been around for 15 years. I’ve seen students protest everything and anything. I never thought it would be me,” Pattiz previously said to The Daily Californian after a meeting of the regents in November. “I’m not going to resign.”

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and two other regents raised questions about whether the board dealt with this matter too lightly while handling other instances of sexual harassment at the university more strictly. They asked UC President Janet Napolitano and George Kieffer, chair of the Board of Regents, what they have done to discipline and investigate Pattiz.

According to Kieffer, Pattiz was neither investigated nor disciplined for his statements to McDonald because he was not conducting university-affiliated business at the time. Kieffer added that the Board of Regents has since changed its policy so that outside misconduct can now prompt an investigation.

Additionally, a UC labor union has proposed a constitutional amendment to give the state legislature authority to expel a regent. Currently, California’s constitution allows the governor to appoint 18 UC regents to 12-year terms but does not include a provision to remove regents.

Contact Naira Khalid at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @nairakhalid.