U. professor retires following sexual harassment investigation
Stephen Bronner, a Rutgers professor in the Department of Political Science, retired earlier this month after being under investigation for the sexual harassment of a graduate student two decades ago, University spokeswoman Dory Devlin confirmed, according to an article in NJ Advance Media.
This past year, Bronner had not been teaching while the University investigated the claim that he had inappropriately touched a student during a meeting in his office, according to the article.
Devlin confirmed Bronner’s retirement but was unable to determine the status of the investigation, according to the article.
The investigation is ongoing and expects the University to continue the case, said an attorney for Kristy King, the former graduate student of Bronner’s and current Arizona State University professor, according to the article.
“We know that our client’s complaint is still being investigated, and Dr. Bronner’s retirement in no way changes our expectations that Rutgers conduct a fair and thorough investigation and that it implement all necessary changes to its policies,” said Iliana Konidaris, one of King’s attorneys, according to the article.
Bronner could not be reached for comment, but has previously denied the allegations and said he had no recollection of the incident, according to the article.
“The culture in Rutgers’ political science department must change, and it’s unfortunate that it has taken so long,” Konidaris said, according to the article. “We are committed to ensuring a fair process for our client and for others who come forward in the future.”
King claimed Bronner ran his hand up her thigh on her first day at Rutgers approximately 20 years ago, along with other allegations of sexual harassment, in the complaint she filed last year, according to the article.
She filed the claim years later because she was inspired by the #MeToo movement, King said, according to the article.
“I don’t have any knowledge that his retirement is related to my persistence, but I still have plenty of opinions,” King said, according to the article.
The University told King that it does not typically investigate incidents that are more than two years old, but dropped the policy hours after NJ Advance Media reported King’s case and several other incidents in 2018, according to the article.
The University also formed a task force, which recommended major changes to its sexual misconduct policy in May, including the ban of dating relationships between professors and students, according to the article.
Bronner announced his retirement in a Facebook post on Nov. 3, after 43 years of teaching. He did not mention the investigation but spoke on the change of direction and conflicts within the Department of Political Science, according to the article.
“Debilitating conflicts have soured the atmosphere, the professional and pedagogic culture is changing, new students who share my interests are not being admitted and I have no graduate classes to teach,” Bronner said, according to the article. “Like any relationship, but, this one should not be judged by how it ends. I have had the opportunity to pursue my research and I was lucky enough to receive three teaching awards.”
Bronner’s colleagues were notified of his retirement in an email sent by Richard Lau, chairman of the Department of Political Science.
“(Bronner) plans to devote more time to his new conflict resolution NGO (non-governmental organization) International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue,” Lau said. “I want to thank Steve for all of his contributions to the department over the past 43 years, and wish him great success with his new mission and in all his future endeavors.”
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