There are a lot of news stories about sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, but for all the talk about the subject, institutions are slow to do anything about them.
Recently, the University of California, Davis, announced it had terminated the employment of a chemistry professor who has been accused of assaulting a high school student he met through a mentorship program at his UC Davis laboratory.
According to news reports, three alleged assaults took place at the professor’s home starting in 2010. Someone filed a police report about the allegations in 2018, and the alleged victim later filed a lawsuit against the professor.
The university did not place the professor on leave and begin investigating the allegations until January of 2021.
It took another two years for the university to conclude its investigation and fire the professor. In a statement about the firing, the university pledged that it will conduct a thorough review of its mentorship programs and improve its communications with local police. It also pledged to investigate whether anyone at the university was aware of problems with the professor at the time.
Reportedly, the court dismissed the alleged victim’s lawsuit against the professor because the statute of limitations had passed. Since then, California has extended the statute of limitations for some sexual assaults.
Justice acts slowly
For victims of sexual assault, the emotional trauma can last a lifetime. They deserve to see justice done and to be compensated for all that they have lost, but the justice system moves slowly. Institutions, too, can be slow to effect change.
When fighting against these slow-moving forces, it’s important for survivors of sexual assault to have an experienced professional on their side.