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Geoff Marcy, Berkeley Astronomer Accused of Serial Harassment, Resigns

[Last updated (10/14/2015, 4:25 p.m.) with a statement from the university.]

Geoffrey W. Marcy, the University of California at Berkeley astronomer who was the subject of numerous complaints of sexual harassment, has resigned from his position. According to a screenshot of an email from the department of astronomy’s interim chair, Gibor Basri, that was provided to The Chronicle, Mr. Marcy has “initiated the process that will lead to his no longer being a faculty member” at the university.

On Wednesday afternoon the university confirmed that Mr. Marcy had resigned. In a message to the campus, the university’s chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, and provost, Claude Steele, wrote that the professor’s conduct was “contemptible and inexcusable.”

The decision follows a nationwide uproar over the university’s finding that Mr. Marcy had repeatedly violated its sexual-harassment policy, coupled with discipline seen as inappropriately light: the threat of sanctions. Mr. Marcy’s colleagues in the department released a statement on Monday calling for him to leave the university.

In their statement on Wednesday, the Berkeley leaders said policies of the University of California system did not allow the university to punish Mr. Marcy through termination, adding that the process required to remove a faculty member is “lengthy and uncertain.”

“Our objective was to protect our students by immediately preventing any reoccurrence of the behavior described in the investigative report,” the statement reads. “We thus chose to establish, in writing, a strict set of behavioral standards that went beyond what is specifically proscribed by the university’s rules and regulations. In addition, the agreement authorized the administration to bypass the lengthy, uncertain disciplinary process by stripping the professor of a faculty member’s usual due-process rights.”

The Chronicle reported on Wednesday that colleagues and students had tried for more than a decade to persuade Mr. Marcy to put an end what they said was his inappropriate touching of female students.

BuzzFeed News first broke the news of the university’s investigation of the researcher.

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