Famous Astronomer Violated Sexual Harassment Policies Over Many Years

By Azeen Ghorayshi, October 9, 2015, BuzzFeed News
Finalist for the Livingston Awards

One of the world’s leading astronomers has become embroiled in an increasingly public controversy over sexual harassment.

After a six-month investigation, Geoff Marcy — a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate — was found to have violated campus sexual harassment policies between 2001 and 2010. Four women alleged that Marcy repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students, including unwanted massages, kisses, and groping.

As a result of the findings, the women were informed, Marcy has been given “clear expectations concerning his future interactions with students,” which he must follow or risk “sanctions that could include suspension or dismissal.”

As word has spread that Marcy was not more severely disciplined, some fellow astronomers have begun speaking out about his behavior, asking for stronger sanctions and even telling him that he is not welcome at his field’s biggest annual gathering. On Wednesday evening, Marcy posted an apology letter on his faculty page.

“While I do not agree with each complaint that was made, it is clear that my behavior was unwelcomed by some women,” Marcy wrote. “It is difficult to express how painful it is for me to realize that I was a source of distress for any of my women colleagues, however unintentional.”

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