Oakland, CA – Today, Tyann Sorrell, a victim of sexual harassment, issued a statement expressing outrage at the deal the University of California struck with her harasser, former UC Berkeley Law School Dean Sujit Choudhry.
Ms. Sorrell was an Executive Assistant to the Dean and brought charges against him for repeatedly and inappropriately kissing, hugging and touching her. The University confirmed that Choudhry engaged in harassment of Ms. Sorrell and UC President Janet Napolitano called for Choudhry to be subjected to a disciplinary process that could have led to his loss of tenure.
In a complete reversal, the University has now struck a deal with Choudhry that includes letting him keep his tenured position for another year with access to funding and allowing him to leave in good standing. Ms. Sorrell is not a party to this settlement, does not agree with the settlement between the University and Choudhry and did not control those terms.
In reaction to the news, Ms. Sorrell said, “This deal insults all who suffer harassment at the hands of those with power and privilege.”
Ms. Sorrell’s suit was instrumental in Choudhry’s resignation as Dean and in his ultimate departure from University of California, Berkeley. However, the generous terms on which the Regents have allowed this to happen are outrageous.
According to attorney Leslie F. Levy, who represents Sorrell in that lawsuit, “A year ago UC President Janet Napolitano called for disciplinary process that could have led to Choudhry’s loss of tenure. Now they’ve done an about-face and are letting him off with no discipline and a clean record. This is just one more example of UC refusing to take sexual harassment seriously and once again offering a soft landing even after a finding of harassment.”
Levy went on to say “It is no accident that UC opted to make this public late on a Friday evening, attempting to avoid the scrutiny of the public and the reaction of the students to their continued mishandling of these matters.”
She further reiterated that, despite any implications to the contrary, “This deal was made between the University and Choudhry. Ms. Sorrell finds the package of benefits provided to Choudhry in this settlement to be outrageous.”
The deal struck between the University of California and Choudhry is the latest in what appears to be an epidemic of mishandled sexual harassment cases where the University imposes little or no discipline and no significant consequences for their actions. Examples of this treatment of harassers include an astronomy professor receiving a merely a warning and a vice chancellor being hired into a new job after resigning. The UC has received significant public criticism for these and other actions which contributed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks resignation in 2016.
Ms. Sorrell has a completely separate agreement with the University to resolve her suit against the Regents, which the University has not released.