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Caltech Professor Found Guilty of Harassment Resigns

August 3, 2017
 
 

Christian Ott, a California Institute of Technology professor whose harassment of female graduate students was documented in a BuzzFeed News investigation last year, has resigned.

Ott was suspended after a 2015 internal investigation found he had engaged in “discriminatory and harassing behavior” toward two female graduate students. He had developed romantic feelings for one, then fired her because of it. He later confided in another female graduate student, telling her about his actions. His continuous correspondence with that student led to a Title IX complaint, which the first student later joined.

The resignation was reported by BuzzFeed Tuesday night.

A university committee had been debating whether to allow Ott to return to campus in August. He had initially been suspended for nine months, and then an additional 12 months were added to his suspension after it was found he had contacted one of the students while he was suspended.

In an email to faculty, staff and students announcing the resignation -- later posted on Twitter by some of the recipients and confirmed by a Caltech spokeswoman -- Caltech’s president and provost said that the committee found that Ott had made “significant progress” regarding the issues that had led to his suspension, but he remained “a divisive element on campus.” Those results were shared with Ott, who is resigning effective Dec. 31.

The email says that Ott’s office “will remain off campus” until then.

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