UC regent cleared of sexual harassment allegations

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Content warning: sexual harassment 

The UC Board of Regents amended the investigation policy for reviewing allegations of UC regent misconduct May 21, following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations raised against UC Regent George Kieffer in November 2019, which have since been cleared.

UC Santa Cruz graduate student Rebecca Ora, who could not be reached for comment as of press time, publicly raised the allegations during a regents meeting in November 2019, citing a 2014 incident in which Kieffer allegedly grasped her leg under a dinner table throughout a university event discussing tuition hikes.

In a previous interview with The Daily Californian, Ora said she first filed a formal complaint through the university in July 2018 prior to her public remarks.

The public allegations then spurred a subsequent investigation by the university, which was “completed several weeks ago,” according to an email from UC Office of the President, or UCOP, spokesperson Claire Doan.

In the email, Doan said the investigation addressed the allegations in accordance with the university’s sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, policy and Regents Policy 1112, the Policy on Review of Allegations of Board Member Misconduct.

“Based on the evidence gathered through the third-party investigation, the investigator did not find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the reported conduct occurred,” Doan said in the email.

During the regents’ May 20 meeting, amendments were presented to Regents Policy 1112, including a call for the UC Title IX officer to apply the university’s SVSH policy to both the complainant and the respondent regent, according to an official document.

The document also called for the policy to apply when complaints of misconduct relate to both official conduct and nonofficial conduct that could present a breach of the university’s SVSH policy. Previously, the UC sexual harassment policy did not apply to regents when not on duty.

Additionally, complainants would be entitled to procedural protections parallel to the regents’, including the ability to review and respond to evidence before the investigation is finished, according to the document.

According to Kieffer, the policy, which has since been passed, informed parts of the investigation regarding the sexual assault allegations raised against him.

Kieffer also said in an email that the regents had no role in the investigation or its findings and that the investigator was independent of the Board of Regents. He added that the incident “simply didn’t happen.”

“The charge was very hurtful to me,” Kieffer said in the email. “In over 40 years of public life no one has suggested anything like this about me.”

UCOP declined to comment further or release the investigator’s report due to privacy laws.

Contact Hanna Lykke at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hannaathearstDC.