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UC-Berkeley Fires Professor Accused of Harassing Students

The University of California at Berkeley has fired a professor after a committee found that he sexually harassed four students. The professor denies the allegations.

Blake Wentworth, an assistant professor in the department of South and Southeast Asian studies, had been suspended since June of last year in connection with the claims.

“The committee found by clear and convincing evidence that Wentworth had engaged in the misconduct and recommended his dismissal,” a news release from the university stated. “These actions are part of the university’s continuing effort to eradicate sexual misconduct from our campus. The harassment of students by faculty represents an unacceptable breach of the teacher-student relationship and carries the potential for enormous harm.”

Michael Hoffman, a lawyer for Mr. Wentworth, said in a statement that a pending lawsuit would show that the University of California system had tried to ruin his client’s career.

“Dr. Wentworth denies the false assertions, which are a pretext to discriminate and retaliate against him,” the lawyer said.

About a year ago, Berkeley announced that it was making sweeping changes to battle sexual misconduct on its campus.

The complaints against Mr. Wentworth were filed in the 2014-15 academic year, and some faculty members had previously complained, in a letter to a vice provost, about the university’s slow response to the claims.

Mr. Wentworth’s dismissal is only the latest development in a series of sexual-misconduct cases at Berkeley. John R. Searle, an emeritus professor of philosophy, came under fire after a former student filed a lawsuit in March asserting that Mr. Searle had made sexual advances toward her. Before that, Sujit Choudhry, a former law-school dean, was found to have harassed an executive assistant over a period of about nine months in 2014 and 2015. Mr. Choudhry resigned in 2016, although the university had initially planned to retain him but dock his pay. And the prominent astronomer Geoffrey W. Marcy resigned in 2015 after the university found he had repeatedly violated its sexual-harassment policy.

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