The Legal Beat
Law School Professor Faces Unique Penalty For Inappropriate Behavior
Posted on Tuesday November 13, 2018
The travails of Jay Kesan continue. For those that have not been keeping up-to-date with the saga of the professor whose behavior violated University policy, let me catch you up, everyone else can feel free to skip the next graf.
In 2017 the University of Illinois law professor was investigated for allegations of sexual harassment, and while he was cleared of the sexual harassment, the investigators found he violated the code of conduct as well as the spirit of the university’s policies prohibiting sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Due to tenure and being cleared of the sexual harassment proper charge (even though the investigation found “[the] collective evidence gathered during the investigation revealed a pattern and practice by Professor Kesan of engaging female students and junior female colleagues in a manner that he knew or should have known would make them feel uncomfortable and was highly inappropriate for a workplace or academic setting”), the consequences for his actions weren’t particularly severe. No one was particularly happy with that outcome, with the students demanding Kesan’s resignation and the faculty — including law school dean Vik Amar — sending a letter to the university protesting the weak sanctions.
Now it looks like some harsher consequences are coming Professor Kesan’s way.
For this semester, accommodations were made so that students who wanted to transfer out of his class had an opportunity to do so. And as Chronicle of Higher Education reports, a letter from Dean Amar announced Professor Kesan will be taking a one-year unpaid leave of absence starting in January 2019. But that’s not all — when he does return he’ll face a novel penalty designed to increase transparency: students that enroll in his classes will be informed of the results of the investigation:
For five years after he returns, Kesan “will not seek to prevent the college from advising students who enroll in his courses of the results of the ODEA investigation,” Amar’s letter says. “This information will be communicated to students in the form of a short summary of the ODEA’s findings and conclusions.”
The letter also reveals Kesan has begun professional counseling and an apology from the professor was attached to the letter. In it, Kesan says the incident has forced him to “think more deeply about my faults and understand more clearly the harm I have caused many people.”
It looks like the concerns of the students and faculty about problematic behavior in their community were (finally) taken seriously.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).