Rutgers University has been investigating sexual assault allegations against one of its professors at the Newark campus since November 2017. A 29-year-old graduate student claims that she was sexually assaulted in January 2016 by her doctoral mentor who is also the vice chancellor for Research and Collaborations. At that time, she had been a research assistant for six months to the professor who was her dissertation adviser.
The professor has been on paid administrative leave since the complaint was filed in November, and according to university policies, may not enter campus, participate in any university activities, or engage with students while the investigation is ongoing.
A Failed Suicide Attempt
The student said she saw the professor as a father figure and became infatuated with him, entering what became an 18-month relationship. When she was unable to see him as much as she wanted to, she attempted suicide but failed. A report compiled by the university contains texts and emails that she sent him. In some, she threatened to harm herself if he did not leave his wife, yet even though the student was stalking him, the professor did not report the incident or the relationship to the university.
The first allegations of harassment were made by the student last summer, but she withdrew them and alleges that the professor intimidated her by saying she would be deported if she proceeded with her claim.
Refusal to Submit a DNA Sample
According to the student, she went ahead with her formal complaint in November because the harassing behavior resumed. As evidence, she provided a pair of her pants that she said contained the professor’s DNA. She also gave the names of two students who knew about the affair. The students are cooperating with the investigation; however, the university has been waiting over a month for the professor to comply with their request for a DNA sample.
The final determination made by the Office of Employment Equity concluded that while there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations made by the student, the professor had hindered the entire process by withholding and misrepresenting information. The university report on the investigation called the 75-year-old professor’s failure to report the student’s behavior extremely troubling, and said that serious concerns have been raised.
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