A Caltech Professor Who Harassed 2 Female Students Has Finally Resigned

A California Institute of Technology professor accused of sexually harassing two graduate students has officially resigned, the university confirmed late Tuesday. According to BuzzFeed News, Professor Christian Ott was a tenured astrophysics professor at the university when two of his female research students filed a complaint against him for "unambiguous gendered sexual harassment." 

Ott has been suspended since the fall of 2015, but his potential return was recently reviewed. An independent committee found Ott was fit to return as long as he met a list of requirements, some of which included having a professional evaluation to ensure Ott had made significant progress toward rehabilitative training. It was also noted that Ott's history was a "divisive" issue on campus, which could impact how his potential return would affect the campus community. These recommendations, along with other valuable information, were then sent to the Provost for final review.

However, before a decision was made on Ott's behalf, he decided to resign after receiving the set of recommendations. The resignation will be effective as of December 31, 2017, but Ott will remain off campus throughout the fall semester. 

According to the initial BuzzFeed report, Ott had allegedly harassed two graduate students he advised, Lo Kleiser and Sarah Gossan. The report was originally filed after Gossan learned Ott had fired Kleiser from her research position because he said he had fallen in love with her. Kleiser was under the impression she was fired due to her research abilities, until Gossan filed the report and Kleiser was questioned. Ott was initially suspended for a nine-month span, but that suspension was extended for another year after he violated the terms of the suspension by contacting one of the victims.

Ott briefly returned to campus in May, but students staged a silent sit-in to protest, according to Teen Vogue. Students also made their displeasure known by sending letters to the university's president while his return was under review. Many students are taking his resignation as a victory.

Kleiser and Gossan are both continuing to complete their PhDs.