UC Berkeley Law School dean resigns after executive assistant accuses him of 'unwelcome touching and kissing'

UC Berkeley School of Law said Thursday that its dean, Sujit Choudhry, had resigned from his post following sexual harassment claims brought by his former executive assistant.

The resignation comes two days after Choudhry was named in a lawsuit filed by his former executive assistant. The assistant, Tyann Sorrell, said Choudhry hugged, kissed, and massaged her regularly before she took a leave of absence as the school investigated her allegations.

The allegations were investigated by the school’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD). The OPHD’s report concluded that Choudhry’s “kissing, hugging, and touching” was “unwelcome and of a sexual nature” and that the behaviour “explicitly affected” Sorrell’s employment.

The report noted that Choudrhy did not dispute the conduct he was accused of, but disagreed with how frequently it occurred. Sorrell said the behaviour occurred multiple times daily, while, in the course of the investigation, Choudhry stated that the behaviour occurred “no more than once or twice a week.”

Sujit choudhryLinkedInSujit Choudhry’s LinkedIn Profile, as of March 9th, 2015.

On Wednesday, Choudhry and the school had announced that the dean would be taking an “indefinite leave of absence” from his position, stepping down to a faculty role and salary. On Thursday, the school noted that he had resigned from his position as dean but did not say whether he would remain at the school in some other capacity.

The resignation came as Berkeley law school alumni were preparing to send a letter calling for his termination that had gathered over 450 signatures on Thursday afternoon, according to alumna Olga Tomchin.

“I think how quickly it came together speaks to how betrayed and outraged the [alumni] community felt at the head of our law school sexually harassing staff,” Tomchin told Business Insider. “It was a slap in the face to have that behaviour exist at the very top of our institution.”

Tomchin said the letter included signatures of alumni from nearly ever year since the class of 1984. The group of alumni is likely to still send the letter, which is addressed to UC president Janet Napolitano and Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, among others. The letter calls for Choudhry’s full termination.

Students representing the Boalt Hall Student Association and the school’s Coalition for Diversity also published a list of demands, including Choudhry’s resignation from both his dean and faculty positions.

A spokesman for the university said that a full statement on the matter was forthcoming.

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