Jason Lieb — a prominent molecular biologist at the University of Chicago — recently resigned after the school accused him of sexually preying on female graduate students.
One of his colleagues told us he never should have been hired in the first place.
Lieb, 43, had faced allegations of sexual misconduct at The University of North Carolina (UNC) and Princeton University, where he previously worked, according to The New York Times.
He had also admitted to having an affair with a female graduate student, according to The Times.
“I think the question of should he have been hired or not … I would come down to there were enough warning signs that perhaps he shouldn’t have been hired,” Peggy Mason, a professor in the neurobiology department of the University of Chicago, told Business Insider.
Mason’s position echoes the statements she put forth in a blog post called “Jason Lieb is now publicly exposed as a sexual predator.”
At the University of Chicago, Lieb was accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward several female graduate students, according to a university investigation letter obtained by the The New York Times.
That investigation also noted that Lieb was accused of having sex at an off-campus event with one female graduate student who was “incapacitated due to alcohol and therefore could not consent.”
Lieb’s resignation is again touching off a debate about the frequency of sexual harassment in higher education — especially in the science community. In September, an astrophysics professor at Caltech was placed on unpaid leave for “unambiguous gender-based harassment,” according to a letter from the university president.
It’s also raising debate about what colleges must do to prevent these scenarios in the first place.
For her part, Mason suggests the university’s mistake came when the search committee hired him even though it knew Lieb had admitted to having a romantic relationship with a graduate student in his lab at the University of North Carolina that lasted for several months.
Mason calls this admission on the part of Lieb “an enormous red flag.”
At UNC, an investigation found no evidence to support the claims of misconduct, according to The Times. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Princeton told The Times it does not comment on personnel matters.
Although Mason feels the University of Chicago missed the opportunity to make the right decision during the hiring process, she says she’s reassured by the university’s quick response in investigating the allegations of misconduct at the school.
“I’m very satisfied with the university’s response,” she said. “It did a service to the rest of the academic community which previous institutions, who appear to have had the chance to do, did not in fact do.”
Business Insider reached out to the University of Chicago and Lieb, and we will update this post if we hear back.
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