Boston University fired geologist David Marchant on Friday in a sexual harassment case filed by two of his former graduate students during an isolated field camp in Antarctica two decades ago.
A faculty hearing committee at BU suggested suspending him for three years without pay, Science reported. BU’s president Robert Brown, however, overruled the committee and decided to fire him outright.
The first complaint was registered by Jane Willenbring, now an associate professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of California, San Diego. “I often say no one ‘wins’ a sexual harassment case, but I’m wrong: Science, academia, and BU are better today because of this announcement,” said Willenbring.
She alleges that Marchant repeatedly “shoved her down a steep slope, pelted her with rocks while she was urinating in the field, called her a s**t and a wh**e,” and forced her to have sex with his brother, who was also on the trip. Willenbring was 22 years old at that time.
Willenbring said she did not file her complaint with BU earlier because she was afraid of professional reprisal from Marchant. She waited till 2016 after she had received a tenure and established herself as a scholar.
The second complainant, Deborah Doe (a pseudonym), alleges that Marchant called her a “c**t” and a “b***h” repeatedly. She reported that he threatened to block her access to research funding if she earned a PhD. She had to leave the academe and her dreams, after that.
Several other women and male witnesses involved said they feel guilty for not speaking up, and their guilt had urged them to speak now.
University officials were unable to find credible evidence to support the allegations regarding Dr Marchant’s behavior in 2017 and took no action.