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NUS professor sacked for sexual misconduct after probe into allegations of harassment of student including sexting

SINGAPORE — An academic staff member at the National University of Singapore (NUS) was dismissed on Tuesday (Dec 1) for sexual misconduct following investigations into an anonymous complaint in August.

NUS professor sacked for sexual misconduct after probe into allegations of harassment of student including sexting

Professor Theodore G Hopf (right) from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in the National University of Singapore is alleged to have sexually harassed a student.

  • An anonymous complaint was made against Professor Theodore G Hopf from NUS  
  • Investigations found that in August, he offered a student alcohol and they had a drink together on campus
  • Among other things, he made an offensive remark about certain parts of the student's anatomy
  • NUS made a police report on Nov 27 
  • The case is the third in less than two months of action taken by NUS against professors for inappropriate behaviour or sexual misconduct  

 

SINGAPORE — An academic staff member at the National University of Singapore (NUS) was dismissed on Tuesday (Dec 1) for sexual misconduct following investigations into an anonymous complaint in August. 

The complaint alleged that Professor Theodore G Hopf from the university’s political science department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences had sexually harassed a student, NUS said in a statement.          

NUS conducted interviews with the student and Prof Hopf and on Sept 15, he was prohibited from contacting any student from the university. 

He was later suspended and told to stay off campus while investigations were ongoing, NUS said.

A committee of inquiry was appointed on Oct 7 and the student, who was accompanied by an officer from NUS Victim Care Unit, was interviewed on Oct 21. 

As Prof Hopf needed to seek treatment for a serious medical condition, the committee interviewed him later on Nov 13. 

The committee then submitted its report to NUS on Nov 18. 

Following its investigations, the university found that during a meeting between Prof Hopf and the student in August, he offered the student alcohol and they had a drink together. 

He admitted to also making an offensive remark about certain parts of the student’s anatomy. NUS declined to reveal if the student involved is male or female. 

The student also alleged that Prof Hopf pulled him or her forcefully towards him twice. The student resisted, moved back and told him to stop. 

Prof Hopf admitted to placing his hands on the shoulders of the student while facing him or her, but denied pulling the student towards him. 

The student also alleged that in October 2018, Prof Hopf sent a sex-text message via phone to him or her. 

The professor admitted to this but explained that the message was meant for someone else. 

NUS said: “The committee determined that Prof Hoph had failed to act with propriety, respect and decorum expected of a staff of the university. He had sexually harassed the student in physical, verbal and written forms. His conduct was a serious breach of the NUS Staff Code of Conduct.” 

It added that in addition to dismissing the faculty member, it also made a police report on Nov 27 after informing the student that the university would be proceeding to do so in line with its legal obligations.

The case is the latest in a string of actions — the third in less than two months — taken by the university against professors for inappropriate behaviour or sexual misconduct.   

Two weeks ago, NUS revealed that a former professor from its East Asian Institute had acted “inappropriately in a professional setting” by hugging a colleague without her consent. 

Professor Zheng Yongnian, however, had left the university by the time investigations were completed. NUS said that he would have received a written warning for his actions if he was still employed by the university. 

Just a month before that, the university sacked Dr Jeremy Fernando, who taught at Tembusu College, after he was found to have behaved “inappropriately” with students.

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