Kelley resigns, concluding sexual misconduct investigation

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 7/17/18 11:04am

Updated 7/17/18 at 5:10 p.m.

Psychological and brain sciences professor William Kelley has resigned from his position effective immediately following an investigation by the College into allegations of sexual misconduct, College President Phil Hanlon announced today in an email to the Dartmouth community. Kelley’s resignation marks the end of a months-long investigation led by a College-appointed external investigator of three PBS professors following sexual misconduct allegations. The other two professors who were under investigation — Todd Heatherton and Paul Whalen — have already left the College.

According to the email, Kelley’s resignation came after Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith recommended that, in accordance with College policy, Kelley’s tenure be revoked and his employment terminated — a decision that was upheld by a faculty-elected Arts and Sciences Review Committee. Smith and the Review Committee had made the same recommendation for both Heatherton and Whalen last month, after which Heatherton retired and Whalen resigned. All three professors are no longer associated with Dartmouth. Kelley did not respond to a request for comment.

Kelley, who has been on paid leave since last fall, has not entered into a separation or non-disclosure agreement with the College and, along with Heatherton and Whalen, is prohibited from entering campus property or attending College-sponsored events. The College has not made any severance payments to Kelley, although Heatherton is eligible to receive vested retirement funds and retiree health care from the College.

Hanlon and Smith declined a request for comment.

Although the College has now concluded its own investigation and disciplinary actions, the three professors remain under criminal investigation by multiple law enforcement entities. New Hampshire senior assistant attorney general Geoffrey Ward confirmed that the professors remain under investigation by the attorney general's office, but declined to comment further. Hanlon’s email said that the College is continuing to cooperate with the separate law enforcement investigations.

Criminal investigations into the allegations began last fall following an Oct. 25, 2017 article in The Dartmouth reporting that the three professors had been placed on paid leave and were the subjects of an internal investigation by the College. Six days later, Hanlon wrote an email to campus stating that the professors were “alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct” and were being investigated by the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, the Grafton County attorney, the New Hampshire State Police, the Grafton County Sheriff’s office and Hanover Police. On Nov. 10, the College announced the hiring of an external investigator to take over the College’s internal review.

The Dartmouth reported on Nov. 18 that 15 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students and scholars in the PBS department signed a statement to The Dartmouth about the academic environment of the PBS department. In their statement, they wrote that the three professors created “hostile academic environment in which sexual harassment is normalized.” They also claimed that the professors violated one or more of the College’s Employee Sexual Misconduct Policy, Employee Sexual Harassment Policy and Policy on Instructor-Student Consensual Relationships.

On Feb. 19, 2018, Hanlon announced that the external investigator was “close to concluding her work.” He wrote disciplinary action following procedures in the Organization of the Faculty of Dartmouth College would be pursued after the conclusion the investigation.

In his most recent email, Hanlon also announced that the Presidential Steering Committee on Sexual Misconduct, which was appointed last January, has completed a report pending review by senior College administrators. Following the review, the College will seek feedback from the College community on suggestions made in the report.

“I would like to reiterate that sexual misconduct and harassment have no place at Dartmouth,” Hanlon wrote in the announcement. “We will investigate all allegations fairly and impartially and hold accountable any community members found to have violated our policies or standards.”

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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