Scrutiny of Punishment for Professor Over Harassment

November 13, 2017

Princeton University found Sergio Verdú, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering, responsible for sexual harassment against a graduate student and punished him by forcing him to attend an eight-hour anti-harassment training session, the Huffington Post reported. The 23-year-old graduate student came from South Korea in 2015 to work with  Verdú, who became her thesis advisor in 2016, according to the Huffington Post. A year later, she said,  Verdú began behaving inappropriately toward her, touching her thigh and stomach at his home after he’d first invited her there to watch what turned out to be a sexually explicit Korean film.  Verdú allegedly asked her not to talk about the meeting within earshot of anyone in the department and asked her if she had a boyfriend. 

The student filed a harassment complaint, but she says that  Verdú’s punishment was the single training session. The dean of faculty at Princeton reportedly admitted in a recording obtained by Huffington Post that there was “a broader set of allegations” made against  Verdú by other women but that no one was willing to come forward on record.  Verdú said that Princeton advised him “not to reply but I categorically deny that there were any advances or any sexual harassment.” Princeton declined to comment on the specific case but said that “when a member of the university community is found responsible for violating our sexual misconduct policy, a range of penalties may be imposed.”

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