A distinguished Harvard University professor has decided to retire following allegations by 18 women of sexual harassment and misconduct by him over several decades.
Jorge I. Domínguez, who teaches government and is a former vice provost for international affairs at the school, made the announcement on Tuesday. It came two days after he was placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into the claims.
“His forthcoming retirement does not change the active review of the facts and circumstance that have recently come to light,” Jennifer Hochschild, chairwoman of the government department, said in an email to students and alumni obtained by the New York Times.
The 72-year-old’s retirement, which he said would begin at the end of the semester in May, follows detailed allegations from fellow professors, staff members and students of inappropriate kissing, touching, and even what was described as a threatening suggestion of rape to a colleague when they were alone.
“This would be a nice place for a rape,” Terry Karl, who was a junior professor in Dominguez’s department in the early 1980s, said he once told her. She made the allegation in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education, which in recent articles reported accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Dominguez by 18 women.
Karl said she endured two years of sexual remarks, veiled threats and inappropriate touching by Domínguez before reporting him to the school in 1983, leading to his temporary removal from administrative responsibilities as punishment.
It wasn’t until after she left Harvard that she said she learned of other women with similar complaints about him.
“He came to tell me I didn’t get promoted, and while he’s holding me he’s got a hard-on,” Ethel Klein, who had been a junior faculty member in his department, told the Chronicle.
He came to tell me I didn’t get promoted, and while he’s holding me he’s got a hard-on.”
Domínguez, reached by the Chronicle, described himself as surprised and saddened by the allegations. He added that his behavior may have been misinterpreted.
“I do not go around making sexual advances,” he told the news outlet. “Any behavior like that, I would regret it under any circumstances.”
Domínguez did not immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment on Wednesday.
According to The Harvard Crimson, the school’s student newspaper, Domínguez started teaching at the university in 1972 and received tenure in 1979. It was the same year that the first sexual misconduct claim was reported against him by a then-undergraduate.
At a meeting of the government department on Friday, Harvard students reportedly expressed frustration and concern about the school’s handling of Domínguez after misconduct allegations were brought to its attention.
“It can’t be a reality that someone like this would be allowed around students, somebody to be admired,” Carla E. Troconis, a current student who studied under Domínguez, told the Crimson.