UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley assistant professor of South Asian Studies Blake Wentworth has been fired by the university for allegedly sexually harassing four of his former students.

BERKELEY, Calif. (Diya TV) — UC Berkeley has fired an assistant professor of South Asian Studies after finding he sexually harassed four students, officially bringing an end to another case, one in a string of sexual misconduct controversies involving Cal faculty in recent years.

A university investigation found Blake Wentworth violated the school’s Faculty Code of Conduct and its Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy, according to a statement released by the university Wednesday.

The investigators “found by clear and convincing evidence that Wentworth had engaged in the misconduct and recommended his dismissal,” according to the statement. Because Wentworth was not tenured, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks could make the decision to fire him without seeking approval from the Board of Regents, the statement says.

Between 2015 and 2016, two graduate students and one alumna, alleged that Wentworth had touched them inappropriately and made offensive comments towards them, in complaints filed with both the university and the state. Their complaints called for Wentworth’s immediate release.

According to one of the complaints, Wentworth told one of the students he was attracted to her and told her about doing drugs off a stripper’s body, The Guardian reported in 2016. At one point, the student alleged, Wentworth grabbed her hand and said, “I could lose my job over this… but I’m just so attracted to you.”

In March 2016, other faculty in the South and Southeast Asian Studies Department urged the university to speed up its investigation into Wentworth’s behavior, and criticized the administration for ignoring or dismissing complaints by several students against him.

In September Wentworth sued the two graduate students who had filed complaints against them, calling their allegations false.

His dismissal comes amid a number of sexual harassment scandals at UC Berkeley, many including high-profile faculty members. In some cases the university was criticized for letting the faculty members off with light punishment. The former dean of the UC Berkeley law school, Sujit Choudhry, also resigned from that position after Cal determined that he had sexually harassed his assistant but allowed him to keep his job, infuriating his colleagues. Choudhry was placed on sabbatical until May 2018.

Wentworth’s dismissal is effective immediately.