An internal inquiry conducted by Ambedkar University has found Professor Lawrence Liang, dean of its School of Law, Governance and Citizenship, guilty of sexually harassing a student pursuing a PhD in another university.
The Committee for Prevention of Sexual Harassment (CPSH) filed the final report on February 20, recommending that Liang “should step down from any administrative position he may be holding currently and should not be in any administrative position for at least two years from the date of the implementation of recommendations of the inquiry committee”.
The 16-page inquiry report details instances of alleged sexual harassment in 2015 and 2016, with the complainant approaching CPSH (AUD) in October 2017, after a list of men in academia accused of sexual harassment was put up online.
When contacted, Liang told The Indian Express: “I have not commented so far on the matter because of CPSH confidentiality rules. I can, and must, however, say this — I dispute the report in its entirety, its findings and recommendations included. Some persons have initiated selective leaks. These persons know that I have signed confidentiality rules and cannot respond. Selective leaks demonise, cause a media trial, and proclaim guilt in advance… I intend to exhaust every channel open to me to clear my name.”
As first reported by Asia Times, in the inquiry report, the complainant referred to an instance in April 2015, when Liang allegedly “kissed her, despite her asking him to stop more than once”, sent her “flirty texts” at a conference, and “kissed her and groped her” on another occasion.
Referring to instances of alleged harassment in 2016, she said that he allegedly “hugged her and kissed her in greeting in public in a way which was unwelcome”, and also “kissed her without consent” the same evening.
The inquiry report also mentions two instances involving interns Liang worked with in the past, with the committee observing that his “behaviour in the past with two interns… suggests his willingness to cross legal and ethical boundaries when in position of power. This is of particular concern given his official role in AUD”.
The committee also recommended that Liang “be issued a warning letter by AUD that a complaint of sexual harassment against him in the future can have serious consequences… even include suspension from service”.
To an email by The Indian Express, Professor Geetha Venkataraman, the chief inquiry officer, faculty representative, replied, “I respectfully and humbly decline any and all comment. All constituents of the university are bound by the confidentiality clause enshrined in the AUD policy on prevention of sexual harassment, approved by our board.” The complainant did not respond to an email seeking comment.