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U. of C. Professor Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

By Sam Cholke | February 3, 2016 12:26pm
 Molecular biologist Jason Lieb has resigned from the University of Chicago amid allegations he made unwanted sexual advancements to graduate students.
Molecular biologist Jason Lieb has resigned from the University of Chicago amid allegations he made unwanted sexual advancements to graduate students.
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University of North Carolina

HYDE PARK — A molecular biologist at the University of Chicago has resigned amid allegations that he made unwanted sexual advancements to several graduate students.

Jason Lieb, 43, resigned in January shortly before university administrators recommended he be fired for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy.

Lieb allegedly made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students on an off-campus retreat in Galena, Ill., and engaged in sexual activity with a student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent,” according to documents acquired by the New York Times.

The university began an investigation into the allegations in November after reports of alleged misconduct by a faculty member during the private party organized by a university department, and the faculty member was on a leave of absence throughout the investigation, according to a statement from Jeremy Manier, a spokesman for the university. Manier's statement did not identify the faculty member by name.

Manier said that Sarah Wake, assistant provost and director of the office for equal opportunity programs at the university, investigated the allegations and recommended in January that the faculty member be fired.

He said the professor resigned before the disciplinary process was complete, but all findings would remain a part of his employment record.

Officials said the conduct violated the standards of the university community and faculty and students affected by the investigation have been informed of the investigation and its outcome.

"The university provides confidential counseling services and other support for members of our community who experience sexual misconduct," Manier said. "As part of its commitment to prevent sexual misconduct, the university is already in the process of providing increased training on related issues to faculty members, graduate students, undergraduates and staff members."

While there were anonymous accusations before Lieb was hired that he had faced allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct in his previous jobs at Princeton University and the University of North Carolina, the Times reported, the committee that hired Lieb could find no evidence the allegations were true.

"The university received the individual’s consent to speak to previous employers and did so, in addition to the usual academic due diligence measures undertaken in connection with a faculty hire," Manier said. "The university was informed that an investigation by the institution of that prior allegation did not find that the individual had violated policies on sexual misconduct."

Lieb could not be reached for comment.

The University of Chicago’s sexual assault policy was the subject of 2014 investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Since that investigation, the university has strengthened its policies and provided additional resources for investigating and resolving allegations of sexual assault.

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