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Dartmouth professor retires in sex misconduct case

HANOVER, N. H. – One of three Dartmouth College psychology teachers faced with allegations of sexual misconduct, has chosen to retire after an investigation and recommendation the school to fire him, the school, the president said Thursday.

President Phil Hanlon announced Professor Todd Heatherton, the retirement, immediately, in a letter to the Dartmouth community. Heatherton had been on sabbatical.

He and two other professors were accused last year of creating a “hostile academic environment” is characterized by excessive drinking, nepotism, and sometimes inappropriate behavior.

“I retired, because I thought that it is best for my family, the institution and the students involved,” Heatherton said in a statement provided by his attorney Thursday. “I acknowledge that I am unprofessional, acted out in public at conferences while intoxicated. I offer a humble and sincere apology to everyone affected by my actions.”

Hanlon said Heatherton will continue to be prohibited from entering the campus property or attending a Dartmouth-sponsored events.

Hanlon said an external researcher presented findings on Heatherton and Professors Paul Walen and Bill Kelley to the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, Elizabeth Smith. She made recommendations to each professor, including Dartmouth withdraw Heatherton is the permanent appointment and the end of his employment.

The recommendations were confirmed by a review commission within the arts and sciences. Hanlon said the recommendations on Kelley and Walen, which he did not reveal, will now be assessed by a faculty-elected council. Once the reviews are complete, they will be presented to the board of trustees.

Walen and Kelley will remain on paid leave, with limited access to Dartmouth.

Hanlon said Dartmouth is still the cooperation with the law enforcement officials on their own research.

Last year, 15 undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students and wrote for the school newspaper, The Dartmouth, including the three created a hostile environment “in which sexual harassment is normalised,” and violated at least one campus policies related to sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, or voluntary relationships between students and teachers.

In the interviews with the newspaper, a number of students described in an uncomfortable workplace culture blurs the line between professional and personal relationships, and said that they often felt pressured to drink at social events. A woman said that she felt like she was being tested when an event occurs, as a professor put his arm around her and slid it down her body.

The newspaper did not identify the students but said that it confirmed their association with the psychology and brain sciences department.

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