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Princeton Fires Engineering Professor for Sexual Misconduct

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An internal investigation found a Princeton engineering professor guilty of sexual harassment and misconduct. Sergio Verdu was found guilty of violating university policies that prohibit consensual relationships with students. The investigation also found him guilty of sexually harassing Yeohee Im, a graduate student.

“[The investigation] was recommended by the president and the provost after an investigation established that Dr. Verdu violated the University’s policy prohibiting Consensual Relations with Students, and its policy requiring Honesty and Cooperation in University Matters,” Assistant Vice President for Communications Dan Day told The Daily Princetonian.

However, Im, whose allegations prompted the university in 2017 to put Verdu on an eight-hour training session, said that initially, the university didn’t take appropriate steps to punish him.

Abuse of authority can be prevented only when there is a clear message from the institute that abuse is never tolerated,” Im wrote in an email to The Princetonian.

“Administrators of the university should remember that the decision to terminate Verdu’s position is not a closure of the sexual discrimination issue, but rather is a baby step in the right direction.”

Policies set up by the university strictly prohibit faculty members from having any romantic or sexual relationship with students.

“A sexual or romantic relationship between a faculty member and a person for whom he or she has professional responsibility (i.e., as a teacher, adviser, evaluator, or supervisor) is inherently problematic. With professional responsibility comes power. It is incumbent on faculty members not to abuse, nor to seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted,” reads the university policy on consensual relations.

Verdu has earlier denied the allegations and has not issued any statement on the latest developments.

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