San Diego

Report Details Students' Sexual Harassment Claims Against UCSD Professor

A UC San Diego professor was placed on leave and later resigned after two female students reported credible allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

A 10-page report by the campus’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination found that John Hoon Lee, a lecturer and administrator in the Revelle College Humanities program, violated the campus’ sexual harassment policies.

According to the report, which was issued July 11, 2017, but made public just last week by the school’s independent, online newspaper, The Triton, campus administrators learned of the sexual misconduct allegations against Lee in February, 2017.

The university launched a formal investigation on April 10, 2017. Lee’s department placed him on “investigatory leave” that same day.

Documents obtained by the Triton confirm that Lee later resigned from the university.

The report contains detailed allegations, including complaints that Lee repeatedly asked “personal questions about a female students’ dating and sex life."

One of the students said she felt pressured to keep discussing those intimate and uncomfortable subjects with Lee because she needed a letter of recommendation.

More significantly, the other student claimed she went to Lee's home, where he served her wine that made her feel "dizzy,” then tied her to his bed and kissed her.

The investigator interviewed Lee, who denied the most serious charges, and claimed much of the contact was consensual.

The reports concluded that Lee violated UC policies on sexual harassment and created a “hostile environment.”

But the investigator determined that Lee did not violate UC “sexual assault – contact” guidelines, which prohibit the touching “without consent, of (specific) intimate body parts, clothed or unclothed.”

Student journalists Ethan Coston and Ella Chen broke the story after Coston filed a public records request for documents on campus sexual misconduct allegations.

Chen, the Triton’s news editor, said fellow students were surprised by the report’s findings.

“A lot of my friends had this professor,” Chen said. “They were like, ‘What? No way, we love this professor. We love this guy. There’s no way.’”

Chen and Coston said the campus should have released the report voluntarily, without waiting for a public records request. In the alternative, the say administrators should have released some information much earlier in the investigatory process.

“When they put him on leave, they should have informed his current students,” Coston said. He said campus administrators should be “more transparent about the process and keep students informed, because they’re the ones that are being affected by this.”

Lee could not be found for comment on the allegations and findings in the report.

A campus spokesperson released the following statement on the allegations and the report:

“UC San Diego has no tolerance for sexual violence or sexual harassment, which are prohibited by University policy as well as federal and state law. The campus is committed to, and continuously working toward, maintaining an environment in which all students, faculty and staff are free from harassment and discrimination.

The respondent in this case is no longer working for the university. The respondent was immediately placed on leave and the allegations were promptly investigated by our Title IX office in accordance with UC policies and procedures.”

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