Indian-origin dean of US varsity accused of sexual harassment

  • HT Correspondent, Miami Beach, Florida
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2016 20:17 IST
This May 2014 photo released by the University of California Berkeley shows law dean Sujit Choudhry, who went on an indefinite leave of absence from Wednesday after his assistant sued him over allegations of sexual harassment. (AP File Photo)

Sujit Choudhury, the Indian American dean of the University of California’s Berkeley law school, has been slapped with a sexual harassment suit by a former executive assistant.

Choudhury, 45, has proceeded on indefinite leave of absence, the university said. The law school is considered one of the most prestigious in the US, and he was appointed dean in 2014.

The former assistant, Tyann Sorrell, said in her complaint Choudhury made unwanted sexual advances between September 2014 and March 2015 that included kisses and bear hugs.

Choudhry was reported to the university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, which found in July 2015 he had violated sexual harassment policies.

The university said in a redacted version of the report released on Wednesday, “The Respondent admitted to the following conduct towards the Complainant: hugged her; kissed her on the cheek; touched her shoulders and arms from behind while she sat at her desk; squeezed her arms while he passed by her desk and held her hands to his waist.”

University provost Claude M Steele said in a statement he cut Choudhry’s salary as dean by 10% after an investigation and required him to engage in counselling at his own expense and instructed him to apologise.

Sorrell was given a fully paid administrative leave.

“I believed that a combination of disciplinary actions, monitoring of his behaviour and formal training would be an appropriate and effective response, and would produce the necessary changes in his behaviour,” the provost said.

Before joining Berkeley, Choudhury was the Cecilia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University. He finished his BSc in Biology from McGill University in 1992, followed by a BA (with first-class honours) in Law from the University of Oxford’s University College in 1994.

Following that, he went to the University of Toronto, graduating with an LLB (with honours) in 1996, and an LLM from Harvard Law School in 1998.

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