SNU under fire for sexual abuse claims [2015/02/17 10:17]

Seoul National University has come under public criticism for yet another allegation of a professor`s sexual abuse of female students, following two similar revelations last year.

According to the state-controlled university on Thursday, its human rights center has launched a probe into a male professor at the department of business administration, who has been accused of harassing or molesting some students. While the professor denied the allegation, the school has decided to cancel his classes and suspend him until its human rights center completes its inquiry.

Though the probe is still underway, the suspension is to prevent him from contacting students, said a school spokesman. The professor is accused of kissing a student`s cheek and another`s hand. He also reportedly wrapped his arm around a third student`s waist.

In addition, there are allegations that he verbally abused female students, asking them their underwear size and about their physical relations with boyfriends. Meanwhile, a police station in southern Seoul is investigating another professor, surnamed Baek, into charges that he kissed a female student in November 2014. The professor is suspected of having touched her thigh a number of times over several months.

The SNU human rights center is also conducting a probe into the claim. As soon as the center finalizes its inquiry, the school is expected to set up a decision-making panel to determine the sanction severity.

In November, professor Kang Seok-jin of the department of mathematical sciences at SNU tendered his resignation following a scandal that he sexually abused dozens of his students for years. Kang had been under prosecutors` probe for allegedly molesting a female intern who worked for him during the 2014 International Congress for Mathematicians in August, at which he was one of the speakers.

After the case was reported, other female students spoke out claiming they too were sexually harassed by him. Kang was eventually placed under custody in early December on charges of molesting 22 students over the past 10 years. The university initially accepted his resignation, virtually letting him off the hook for the alleged crimes.

A resignation before the university punishes him could ensure his severance pay, pension and little disadvantage when he seeks new jobs. However, following a public outcry, SNU rejected his resignation and vowed to continue its investigation.

The school unveiled a plan in September to draft a Charter of Human Rights, becoming the first university to do so. The charter involves a code of conduct and guidelines for school personnel and students specifically banning any verbal or physical abuse, including sexual harassment.
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