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Report details harassment by famed biologist

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Science  27 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6400, pp. 316-317
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6400.316

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Summary

The investigative report that triggered the ouster of the prominent evolutionary geneticist Francisco Ayala from the University of California (UC), Irvine, concluded that he had a pattern of sexually harassing behavior toward women. The report, now available online, says Ayala told a pregnant colleague "you're so huge" and repeatedly put his hands under a female administrator's jacket, rubbing them up and down her sides. The 97-page internal investigation by the university concluded that Ayala—who strongly denies most of the allegations—sexually harassed three of four female complain​ants in an investigation that began last November and ended with his termination on 1 July. Ayala's firing has drawn praise from some scientists and sharp criticism from others on the divided UC Irvine campus and in his native Spain. The report's contents seem only to have deepened the division. "I'm just shocked that this man's life was ruined over this collection of reactions to his behavior," says Elizabeth Loftus, a UC Irvine experimental psychologist who read the report. Counters Jane Zelikova, an ecologist at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a founder of 500 Women Scientists: "No form of harassment is OK. … Being fired for doing something that is illegal is justice."