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Harvard Prof. Dominguez Stripped of Emeritus Status Following Conclusion of Title IX Investigation

CGIS
The Center for Government and International Studies houses the Government department, including many of its professors' offices.

UPDATED: May 9, 2019 at 10:15 p.m.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay announced in an email to FAS affiliates Thursday that she has stripped former Government Professor Jorge I. Dominguez of his emeritus status and disinvite him from the FAS campus following the conclusion of a months-long investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Under the sanctions Gay imposed, Dominguez will lose the rights and privileges afforded to emeritus faculty members. He will be unable to hold an office on campus, teach and advise students, or receive support from administrative or research assistants.

The Office for Dispute Resolution investigation into Dominguez found that he engaged in “unwelcome sexual conduct” toward several individuals multiple times over a decades-long period, according to Gay.

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“The ODR findings reveal a longstanding pattern of behavior that, at several points, violated policies designed to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory educational and work environment,” Gay wrote in the email. “I am appalled by the Report’s findings and heartbroken for those who had to endure the behaviors described.”

Separately, Gay has disinvited Dominguez from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences campus. Dominguez also will not be permitted to attend any FAS-sponsored events, either on or off-campus. Gay also recommended that the University bar Dominguez from Harvard’s entire campus and prohibit him from attending any events sponsored by Harvard more broadly.

In a February 2018 Chronicle of Higher Education report, at least 10 women publicly accused Dominguez of repeated acts sexual misconduct. A follow-up Chronicle story revealed that Dominguez faced sexual misconduct allegations spanning four decades from 18 women.

Shortly after the publication of the allegations, former FAS Dean Michael D. Smith placed Dominguez on administrative leave. Days later, Dominguez announced he would retire at the end of the spring 2018 semester.

Debra S. Katz, a lawyer at Katz Marshall & Banks who represents four of the women who accused Dominguez of misconduct, wrote in an emailed statement that the women were “gratified” by the decision to remove Dominguez’s emeritus status and bar him from campus.

“The University’s decision, which comes after a year-long investigation into our clients’ and others’ allegations of sexual misconduct, sends a powerful message to faculty members at the University and across the country that sexual harassment will not be tolerated,” Katz wrote. “It also signals to victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault everywhere that their voices will be heard.”

The University opened a Title IX investigation into Dominguez in early 2018 through its Office for Dispute Resolution. While the average ODR investigation in 2018 lasted 3.5 months, the investigation into Dominguez lasted roughly a year.

The responsibility to interpret the results of an ODR investigation and impose sanctions falls on the school of the respondent to the investigation. Because Dominguez was an FAS professor, Gay was tasked with determining appropriate sanctions.

Gay was not obligated to share the conclusions of the ODR investigation with FAS affiliates, but in her email, she wrote that she chose to do so because she believes that such transparency is “vital to the safety and wellbeing” of students.

“Following our policies and procedures has resulted in a set of sanctions that, in effect, removes Jorge Dominguez from our community,” Gay wrote. “This has, in turn, created an obligation for our community to be informed of the removal.”

Concurrent with the Title IX investigation, the Government department conducted its own review of departmental culture and practices that allowed Dominguez to remain in his position and even gain promotion as he allegedly committed misconduct. The final report, released last week, found a “prolonged institutional failure” in the department that facilitated Dominguez’s abuse.

— Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mollmccaff.

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