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Journalism professor accused of harassment leaves Medill, Northwestern University

Dawn Rhodes, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO--Northwestern University is parting ways with a journalism professor accused of harassment and misconduct by several former students and employees, school officials said Friday.

Alec Klein is out as a faculty member in the Medill School of Journalism and director of the Medill Justice Project as of Friday, university spokesman Jonathan Yates confirmed.

Yates did not specify the reasoning for Klein's departure. But Klein has been on a leave of absence since February after 10 former female students and employees at Medill sent an open letter to school leaders and faculty alleging Klein harassed and bullied them. The group called it "Medill's #MeToo moment."

The women stated Klein initiated unwanted physical contact, made inappropriate sexual comments, pressured them to share intimate details about their lives, and insulted and verbally abused students and employees, among other behavior.

In one case, the women said, Klein propositioned a female employee and invited her to his hotel room.

"The University takes seriously all complaints that are brought to its attention and investigated those allegations promptly and thoroughly, following established University procedures," Yates said in a statement. "The University concluded its investigation in June. As of today, Professor Klein is no longer employed by Northwestern University, and will not be present on Northwestern's campus or attend any University events."

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Klein previously denied mistreating students and employees at the Justice Project, saying that he was demanding but has received numerous positive evaluations over the years. Reached through his Northwestern e-mail, Klein said he was leaving the university of his own accord.

"I have voluntarily resigned effective August 10, 2018, because I believe it is in the best interests of all involved as I pursue other endeavors," Klein wrote.

The group behind the open letter comprises women who worked at the Justice Project, studied at Medill or both since Klein joined the faculty in 2008. They include journalists now working in Chicago, Nashville, Tenn., and San Diego.

After the women went public with their allegations, Northwestern officials said the university's Office of Equity would investigate their claims. School officials also said some of the complaints detailed in the group's letter previously had been reviewed and deemed unsubstantiated.

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