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MIT biology professor accused of sexually harassing graduate student resigns


A prominent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor and biology researcher accused of sexually harassing a student has resigned after the university threatened to revoke his tenure following an investigation.

Dr David Sabatini, 54, resigned on Friday after an MIT investigation concluded his resignation would be the best course of action.

Last year, Sabatini was placed on administrative leave at MIT and fired from the Whitehead Institute after a scientist in her 30s filed a sexual harassment complaint with the institute’s director, Dr. Ruth Lehman.

The graduate student – whom DailyMail.com does not name because she claims to be a victim of sexual misconduct – said she was forced to have sex with Sabatini.

She also claimed conversations in his lab were “85% sexual and 15% scientific,” and he created a work environment in which graduate students who agreed to flirt with him were rewarded, the Boston Globe reported. .

Following the allegations, Sabatini sued The Whitehead, Dr. Lehmann and his accuser, arguing that he was unfairly ousted for false allegations of sexual harassment concocted by a vengeful abandoned lover.

MIT President Rafael Rief announced Sabatini’s resignation from MIT on Friday in a statement to students and faculty, saying he violated the university’s consensual sex or romance policy in the workplace. .

“Reviewers found that Professor Sabatini behaved inconsistently with faculty member responsibilities,” Rief’s said.

“Specifically, the examiners found that Professor Sabatini had a sexual relationship with someone he was in a position of career influence over, he did not disclose the relationship to his supervisors at any time, nor did he disclose the relationship to his supervisors. has taken no steps to relinquish his mentorship and career-influencing roles, as required by policy.

Dr. David Sabatini, 53, resigned on Friday after MIT’s provost, dean of science and head of the biology department concluded that his resignation would be the best course of action.

MIT biology professor accused of sexually harassing graduate student resigns

Until August, Sabatini ran a research lab at MIT’s prestigious Whitehead Institute. He got a job at MIT in 2006, but was placed on administrative leave after allegations of sexual harassment emerged.

MIT biology professor accused of sexually harassing graduate student resigns

MIT President Rafael Rief announced Sabatini’s resignation from MIT on Friday in a statement to students and faculty, saying he violated the university’s policy on consensual sex or romance at the venue of work.

Sabatini’s resignation follows his August firing from The Whitehead and his lawsuit against the institute, its director and the woman who claimed she was sexually harassed.

The lawsuit alleged defamation, wrongful interference with employment, and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

According to the complaint, Sabatini had a 16-month consensual sexual relationship with his accuser, who worked with him at the institute.

Sabatini was estranged from his wife and headed for divorce at the time, and his lab lover reportedly made it clear to him that she was not interested in an exclusive relationship and had other sexual partners.

After Sabatini ended the relationship in July 2019, her lover and colleague “continued to attempt to engage with him sexually and emotionally despite his repeated requests that she stop,” according to the documents.

MIT biology professor accused of sexually harassing graduate student resigns

According to his lawsuit, Sabatini had a 16-month consensual sexual relationship with his accuser, who worked with him at the institute

MIT biology professor accused of sexually harassing graduate student resigns

Sabatini’s accuser claimed conversations in his lab were “85% sexual and 15% scientific,” and he created a work environment in which graduate students who agreed to flirt with him were rewarded.

Sabatini said he made it clear he was pursuing a romantic relationship with another woman in Europe, but his accuser “became determined to destroy his reputation and get him fired.”

Sabatini accused her ex-lover of “fabricating claims that [he] sexually harassed her and later threatened her with reprisals if she reported him.

The researcher went to Dr. Lehmann, the institute’s director, and claimed to have experienced harassment at Sabatini’s lab, which allegedly prompted the director to conduct an anonymous diversity and equity survey.

The institute launched a survey of “culture” in Sabatini’s lab, which involved interviews with 40 postdoctoral fellows, doctoral students and researchers.

Sabatini claims that he was not allowed to be accompanied by a lawyer when he was questioned by lawyers hired by the institute, but his accuser retained the services of a lawyer specializing in labor law.

Eventually, Sabatini was forced to resign from the institute in August.

MIT biology professor accused of sexually harassing graduate student resigns

Over his 25-year career, Sabatini has secured dozens of grants and tens of millions of dollars in funding for his research. He resigned from MIT on Friday over allegations of sexual harassment

The report’s authors further admitted that they found no evidence “that Sabatini actually retaliated or punished anyone for speaking out against him or raising concerns outside of the lab.”

Sabatini was also fired from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which funded his lucrative post at the institute.

The scientist had been on administrative leave at MIT since August, until his resignation on Friday.

Sabatini earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1990 and later earned his medical degree and doctorate from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1997.

He became a faculty member at The Whitehead in 2002 and established his own lab there to conduct groundbreaking research into the mechanisms that regulate cell growth. He graduated from MIT in 2006.

Over his 25-year career, Sabatini has secured dozens of grants and tens of millions of dollars in funding for his research.

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