A controversial UCLA professor accused of sexual harassment has lost his job with the University of California and any chance of future employment with the University under a settlement announced recently. History professor Gabriel Piterberg allegedly made unwelcome sexual comments and contact, including an open-mouth kiss, to a person or persons in 2008. Professor Piterberg disputes the findings but agreed to leave UCLA and forgo any emeritus status, future employment in the UC system, office space or other privileges under the terms of the settlement.
Previously, two of his graduate students, Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, filed a federal lawsuit against the University of California in 2015 alleging that insufficient action was taken on their harassment complaints. They accused Professor Piterberg of repeatedly harassing them over many years by making sexual comments, pressing himself against them and forcing his tongue into their mouths. The two women reached a settlement with the University in 2016, with one student receiving $350,000 and the other receiving $110,000 and a fellowship to support continued work on her dissertation.
The professor agreed to pay a $3,000 fine and a suspension without pay for one quarter, be removed as head of the University’s Center for Near East Studies and attend sexual harassment training. UCLA also imposed other restrictions on his behavior, including a three-year ban on closed-door meetings with individual students.
Professor Piterberg did not admit to wrongdoing at the time and UCLA agreed not to pursue further action with the Academic Senate to oust him or jeopardize his tenure. UCLA also agreed to end its Title IX investigation into the sexual harassment charges without reaching a conclusion. That settlement was widely criticized by students, faculty and staff for what they viewed as weak sanctions and unwarranted secrecy.
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