Arizona professor put on leave amid misconduct allegations

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona State University physics professor, known for his work with scientific exploration and the Doomsday Clock, has been suspended from his university job following allegations of sexual misconduct, the university said in a statement Wednesday.

Professor Lawrence Krauss was put on paid leave pending a review of allegations first reported by Buzzfeed last month, the university statement said. He is also prohibited during the probe from being present on the school’s Phoenix-area campus.

Kraus issued a blistering denial of the allegations after the university disclosed his suspension.

In a nine-page written statement, he said Buzzfeed “ignored counter-evidence, distorted the facts, and made absurd claims about me.”

But the fallout of the allegations led Krauss to give up one position on Tuesday, when he resigned as chairman from the Board of Sponsors at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which manages the Doomsday Clock. The clock is a visual representation of how close the Bulletin believes the world is to catastrophe brought on by nuclear weapons, climate change and new technologies.

The allegations reported by Buzzfeed include misconduct allegations from before Krauss’ hiring by ASU in 2008. They include pinning a woman to a Washington, D.C. hotel room bed and forcibly kissing her in 2006 and groping a woman’s leg at a bar in Iowa in 2011.

Four ex-ASU employees told Buzzfeed of instances in 2015 and 2016 where Krauss made sexist remarks such as offering to buy birth control for a female colleague so he would not be inconvenienced by maternity leave. The unnamed accusers worked with him at the Origins Project, an initiative Krauss started to research issues related to the origin of the universe and human life.

Krauss in his response said the physical encounters reported in the article either did not happen or were consensual. He described the 2006 hotel room interaction as “playful” before he and the woman mutually decided not to have sex. Addressing the 2011 incident, Krauss said a witness was willing to back up his claim that the accuser openly flirted with him and invited him into a hot tub.

Krauss acknowledged that he could be “brash and outspoken, sometimes obnoxious.”

“My intentions have never been to demean anyone, objectify them, diminish their sense of self-worth, or discourage them from expressing themselves,” Krauss wrote. “For any occasion where my friendly and open demeanor caused discomfort, I apologize for my lack of sensitivity. It was certainly not my intention.”

He also denied ever denouncing maternity leave for women, saying his ASU executive assistant took maternity leave twice.

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