Lawrence Krauss to retire from Arizona State University after sexual misconduct allegations

I’ve posted before about the sexual misconduct allegations about Lawrence Krauss at Arizona State University (ASU)—allegations that were investigated by the University after the BuzzFeed article that raised the issue (see my posts here, here, and here). Krauss was removed as director of the ASU Origins Project and asked not to come to campus or teach, but retained his salary as the investigation continued. There are several layers to such an investigation, including a conciliation/mediation process that followed the recent recommendation of the ASU dean that Krauss be dismissed from the University, which would have been the first step if Krauss were eventually fired.

Apparently, according to azcentral.com (part of USA Today), the mediation reached an agreement that Krauss, rather than proceed on through the process, would retire on his 65th birthday next May and receive what retirement benefits he’s accrued during his tenure at ASU.

Below I’ve put Krauss’s tweet describing his decision.

From azcentral.com:

Krauss said the review process had “incomplete access to evidence and accusations during the investigation, no opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or be represented by a lawyer during the investigation interviews, and no option to directly appeal the subsequent determinations made by the investigators or the Provost.”

ASU called Krauss’ description of the review process “inaccurate.” The process includes an opportunity for the accused person to have a hearing, present witnesses and evidence and cross-examine other witnesses, the university said.

“Should he have chosen to move forward with the review process, this would have taken place before any final decisions were made regarding dismissal. Dr. Krauss chose to retire rather than to move forward with that process,” ASU spokeswoman Katie Paquet said.

BuzzFeed has a longer article which includes the five-page settlement agreement between ASU and Krauss. That agreement stipulates that donors who gave more than $4,000 to the Origins Project since 2017, or $300,000 or more at any time, can request that their money be returned. That, I suppose, means that they could re-donate it to whatever projects Krauss undertakes in the future.

BuzzFeed reiterates ASU’s statement that Krauss’s description of the process was inaccurate, and names some of the donors:

In his statement, Krauss criticized the university’s disciplinary process: “My choice at this time to retire in May was prompted by the regulations of the Arizona Board of Regents, under which I would only be allowed to directly test the credibility of my accusers or the veracity of their claims if I first agree to be dismissed, which I was not willing to do.”

But the university spokesperson said that was not true.

“Dr. Krauss’ description of our review process is inaccurate,” the spokesperson wrote. The process would have allowed Krauss to “present witnesses and evidence in [his] own defense and cross-examine adverse witnesses,” the spokesperson wrote. “Should he have chosen to move forward with the review process, this would have taken place before any final decisions were made regarding dismissal. Dr. Krauss chose to retire rather than to move forward with that process.”

. . . The university spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question from BuzzFeed News about whether any donors have asked for their money back. Major donors to the Origins Project include Leon Black, the chair of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and his wife Debra; the Smart Family Foundation, which focuses on educational projects; and Krauss’s friend Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier who in 2008 was convicted of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl.

I have already stated that my own investigations have shown sexual misconduct on Krauss’s part, misconduct apart from that described by BuzzFeed.  (Since then there’s also been a video by Christina Rad claiming that Krauss groped her.)

But I had no feelings about what should be done, except that something needed to be done to ensure that students at ASU would not be even potentially subject to sexual harassment or groping. That apparently has taken place with Krauss’s separation from ASU. There is also a deterrent effect for both him and others, of course, and that is good, too. As I’ve said repeatedly, women at a university—or anywhere—should not have to put up with groping, sexual harassment, or any form of misconduct based on gender.

16 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted October 22, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. keith
    Posted October 22, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Good news. Thanks, Jerry.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 22, 2018 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Just as a side comment, I know of no sexual harassment incidences where I worked that allowed for examining witnesses by the person accused. It was not a trial, just an internal investigation by trained EEO investigators who did their work outside of the public eye. When completed they turn in their findings to the company authorities who then make decisions. The investigators do not make decisions regarding the accused. To go beyond this would require legal action by the party accused.

    To allow the accused to cross examine the accuser during a sexual harassment investigation is ridiculous.

    • Posted October 22, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      In fact, I think colleges are starting to go to this system because without cross-examination they get sued and their decisions overturned. I’m not sure that such cross examination is ridiculous. If not by the accused, it could be by a lawyer, but the accused aren’t allowed to have lawyers. And the “investigators” in colleges often aren’t trained. Read Laura Kipnis’s new book Unwanted Advances.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted October 22, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Possibly the reason they are getting sued is because they are not using trained investigators to handle sexual harassment. Let me try this example. If you are an employee in a retail store and you see your supervisor stealing items from the store. You go to higher authorities with this accusation and they investigate. Should the accused be allowed to examine the person who turned him in? In fact, without legal action should the accused even know who turned him in? Assuming I was the higher manager in the store I would tell the accuser to say nothing to anyone and let me investigate the matter.

        • keith
          Posted October 22, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          Because professors have contracts, and dismissal of a professor requires that legally enforceable procedures must be followed, unlike in retail, where most employment is at-will.

          This also has the benefit of reducing false allegations simply because, e.g. a student is unhappy with their grade, etc.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted October 22, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think so. How does allowing an accused to question the accuser solve anything? It makes no sense.

            If firing is what the school wants then they may have to go through the legal system or courts depending on.

            If the investigators of sexual harassment are properly trained for the job, they will catch false allegations better than any untrained persons.

            • keith
              Posted October 23, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

              It makes perfect sense to use a dialectical approach to get at the truth. And though not a court of law, there are legal ramifications, as I stated, but you ignored.

        • Posted October 22, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          Ever since Magna Carta due process has included the right to know who is accusing you.

          And you should have some mechanism for probing the accuser’s account, since the accused may well be in a position to spot flaws in an account that an impartial investigator might not.

          That doesn’t mean they should have a right to cross-examine in person, but they should be able to have questions put to the accuser.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted October 22, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            Hell, ever since the Assize of Clarendon.

            (I cited the A of C in a legal brief one time, in a case dealing with the Confrontation Clause, and some colleagues of mine have never let me live it down. 🙂 )

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted October 22, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

            Your comments are fine in a court of law but do not apply to simple in house investigation. I would say from my experience with it in the corporate world, if you set up your sexual harassment process under condition that the accused could question the accuser you will have very little to no sexual harassment protection. You will have no one coming forward to initiate a sexual harassment claim.

            You need to understand that most sexual harassment events arise from a position of power. A supervisor uses it on someone or many in the workforce. You think someone being sexually harassed by the boss is going to come forward if he or she knows the boss is going to get to question them. Makes no sense at all.

            In fact, I would challenge anyone here to show me a company or business that allows that.

    • Starr
      Posted October 22, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Those are probably cases of at-will employees being fired. In such cases, where an employee can be fired for no reason at all, the investigation exists to assure the company that it is better off firing them than keeping them, financially speaking.

      An employee with a contract (implied or explicit) is a whole other can of worms. There might be causes that employees can be fired for but now the former employee can argue that the company didn’t do it’s due diligence in determining there was cause for dismissal and sue them. Better for the company to have internal processes in place during it’s investigation that allow the accused pseudo-legal rights, to strengthen their case against possible lawsuit if they do find against the accused. It will prevent many from suing in the first place, and assure most suits that do happen turn into victories for the company.

  4. Posted October 22, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    This should end it for ASU, but I wonder if it is over for Krauss. No matter what the agreement says, it looks like an admission of culpability.

  5. Posted October 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Krauss accuser’s “got something from nothing”
    but “nothing” is not always what it seems,
    theoretical physics has got “nothing” on human behaviour and accountability.
    Unfortunately you have to be a president to get away with “nothing”. Well, so far.
    Sad though, a stella career gone belly up is also unfortunate and to LK probably is not “nothing”. He has to deal with his wife and daughter.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 22, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I would also admit one of the main reasons we do not tend to agree on this issue is because we look at it from different places. For many here it is an academic issue on campus and includes the Title IX regulations. I am looking from company and corporations. Same subject but different worlds. Throwing the responsibility of managing sexual harassment issues on schools with no up to date guidance and plans to implement it is a sure bet for failure. I am pretty sure this is what happened. It is similar to where we were in the 1970s with no experience and no plan.

    Our plan was by trial and error for several years before we got it right. I guess the college campus are going through the same and it did not have to be this way. We messed around with classes for a few years and found out that was mostly a waste of time. Teaching people what sexual harassment is does nothing to prevent it or to handle it as it takes place. Classes to the students or the teaches is the same thing. All it does is give them an idea what it is. If the school has a sexual harassment problem it solves none of it. Allowing untrained people to investigate sexual harassment is also not going to work. People who believe they are being sexually harassed must have a specific, quiet place to report it in confidence. It must be investigated in the same way, as quietly and professionally as possible. If it is done this way, most of the people will not even know about it or who it involves. It is not public theater and if handled properly everyone, including Laura Kipnis will have confidence it the results.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    There are relatively few casualties of the MeToo movement for which I mourn, but I am at tad inclined to do so for LK, though I am not deeply familiar with his work.
    His writing style in popular science is the most graceful I’ve seen since Isaac Asimov, and he’s charming in interviews without trying too hard.


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