UC Berkeley students take sexual harassment complaints to state agency

UC Berkeley students take sexual harassment complaints to state agency

Two doctoral students at UC Berkeley filed complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing on Monday, alleging that a professor harassed them sexually.

Kathleen Gutierrez, 28, and Erin Bennett, 25, alleged that South & Southeast Asian Studies Assistant Prof. Blake Wentworth touched them and made inappropriate sexual comments over and over again.

The also alleged that they took their allegations to the state agency because they were frustrated by the university administration’s failure to discipline the professor.

Gutierrez said the campus’ administration kept her in the dark for several months about what decided to do about her allegations. Bennett said she became so much stressed because of the sexual harassment that she had to take medical leave and suspend a year of her studies.

Accompanied by a lawyer, Bennett said, “It’s been debilitating. It’s already derailed my future career, my education.”

Around half a dozen other students have also complained against Wentworth’s controversial conduct on the campus. Wentworth joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2012, after spending several as a lecturer at five other universities, including Cornell and Yale.