Berkeley Law Dean Accused of Sexual Harassment. Again?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 09, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Get it together, Boalt. Thanks to your unruly deans, you're now top of the law school charts, at least when it comes to your deans and sexual harassment scandals.

The newest news of U.C. Berkeley School of Law's handsy deans came on Tuesday, when an executive assistant sued Boalt Dean Sujit Choudhry for sexual harassment. Choudhry himself became dean just a few years after a previous dean left the school over -- surprise, surprise -- sexual harassment.

Cal's Sexual Harassment Suit

Choudhry, Boalt dean since 2014, and the U.C. Board of Regents are being sued by his executive assistant for sexual harassment and retaliation. The suit by Tyann Sorrell, the executive assistant, alleges that Choudhry began harassing Sorrell soon after he became dean, The Washington Post reports.

The alleged harassment included rubbing Sorrell's shoulders and arms, kissing her on the cheeks, and holding her in bear hugs that were way too tight for the office. "Choudhry's kissing and hugging plaintiff was a near daily occurrence," the complaint says, leaving Sorrell to feel "disgusted, humiliated, exposed and dirty."

When Sorrel complained to Berkeley's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, Choudhry admitted to the harassment, according to Berkeley's student newspaper, The Daily Californian.

Choudhry got barely more than a slap on the wrist. His pay was docked, but according to Sorrel's complaint, the school declined to take further action, such as terminating him, because they were worried "it would ruin the Dean's career."

Yeah, that would be terrible.

Not the First Time for Cal

We're not sure what's worse: the alleged harassment, Berkeley's failed response to it, or the fact that Choudhry didn't learn any lessons from his predecessors.

(Maybe the problem is wider than we know. Cal's mascot, Oski the Bear, definitely gives off a molester vibe.)

In 2002, former Dean John Dwyer resigned after he was accused of harassing a law student. Dwyer allegedly had an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of his students.

Then, just last year, a famous Berkeley astronomy professor, Geoffrey Marcy, resigned after media attention over years of sexual harassment complaints against him. As with Choudhry, the university was accused of turning a blind eye, running toothless investigations that did little to halt the harassment.

Maybe this time they'll learn?

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