BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The dean of the University of California, Berkeley law school resigned Thursday amid faculty outrage that he had been allowed to remain in the position after a campus investigation substantiated sexual harassment allegations from his executive assistant.
The development came a day after Sujit Choudhry, 46, took leave from the dean's position, with plans to remain at the law school as a faculty member. Under the terms of the university's tenure rules, professors only can be fired by Berkeley's Academic Senate, and "Choudhry remains a member of the school's faculty at present," campus officials said in a statement.
Choudhry's assistant, Tyann Sorrell, 41, alleged in a lawsuit this week that her boss kissed, hugged and touched her repeatedly, but he received only a temporary pay cut as punishment and orders to undergo counseling following the campus investigation.
A written report from Berkeley's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination concluded that Choudhry's behavior had violated campus sex harassment policies. The dean did not dispute the substance of Sorrell's complaint, only whether the physical contact occurred several times a day or a few times a week, the report states.
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks met with angry law school faculty members on Thursday morning along with Provost Claude Steele, who on Wednesday had said that the disciplinary measures he had imposed on the dean in July were appropriate.
After the meeting, the two said in a letter to law school professors, alumni and students that they welcomed the dean's resignation as being in the university's best interests.
"We are under no illusion that a resignation could or even should bring this matter and broader, related issues to a close," they said. "It is clear, as we heard during our meeting with law school faculty this morning, that the initial decision not to remove the dean from his position is the subject of legitimate criticism."
Choudhry is the second dean of Berkeley's top-ranked law school to resign under the cloud of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Another Berkeley Law dean, John Dwyer, resigned in 2002 after a former student accused him of molesting her after a night of drinking at her apartment.
Dwyer at the time described the relationship as consensual, but he said he acted inappropriately.
The revelations involving Choudhry came nearly five months after a prominent astronomer at Berkeley, Geoffrey Marcy, resigned amid a national outcry over revelations that the school had substantiated sexual harassment complaints from former female students without demoting or suspending him from his job.
It remained to be resolved Thursday whether Choudhry, an expert in international constitutional law, would be teaching classes or doing research on campus in the days ahead, campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said.