NYU professor, feminist suspended after harassment investigation

Avital Ronell, a New York University professor of German and comparative literature was suspended for "inappropriate physical contact" involving a former student. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Aug. 14 (UPI) — New York University said it’s suspended a literature professor — who’s also a noted feminist — for “inappropriate physical contact” and sending harassing text messages to former graduate student.

A Title IX investigation by the university found professor Avital Ronell harassed male student Nimrod Reitman for three years.

Ronell, 66, a leading feminist scholar, was Reitman’s doctoral adviser.

Reitman, 34, now a visiting fellow at Harvard University, said Ronell repeatedly called him and sent inappropriate text messages for three years. He also said she refused to work with him if he did not comply.

He also said Ronell kissed and touched him without consent, and once pulled him into her bed during a trip to Paris.

The investigation led the school to suspend Ronell for the coming academic year, Washington Square News, the school’s newspaper, reported.

Reitman also accused Ronell of stalking, sexual assault and retaliation by negatively impacting his professional career. The university, which examined the case for nearly a year, said it could not corroborate those claims.

Ronell said she uses flamboyant language, but denied any inappropriate physical or verbal conduct with Reitman.

“Our communications — which Reitman now claims constituted sexual harassment — were between two adults, a gay man and a queer woman, who share an Israeli heritage, as well as a penchant for florid and campy communications arising from our common academic backgrounds and sensibilities,” Ronell wrote in a statement to The New York Times. “These communications were repeatedly invited, responded to and encouraged by him over a period of three years.”

Reitman’s attorney, Donald Kravet, said he’s drafted a lawsuit against the university and Ronell, and are considering legal options.



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