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University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor Peter Rathjen sexually harassed colleagues, according to ICAC

The Independent Commissioner Against Corruption of South Australia (ICAC) discovered that former Adelaide University Vice Chancellor Peter Rathjen committed "serious misconduct" by harassing two women.

Anti-Corruption Commissioner Bruce Lander discovered that Professor Rathjen inappropriately touched two members of the university staff and kissed one, after a work function in April 2019.

In a detailed statement, Commissioner sai d Professor Rathjen repeatedly lied to then-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, Kevin Scarce, when asked about claims that he had a history of sexual harassment.

The statement said Professor Rathjen did not reveal that he was also being investigated for historical allegations. sexually harassed or abused a graduate student at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Rathjen, who was previously revealed to have spent $ 277,000 on business class travel while at the University of Tasmania, is also accused of lying to him

Professor Rathjen took indefinite leave in May, and the ICAC revealed later the misconduct allegations and the way the university treated them were under investigation.

In his public statement released this afternoon, Mr. Lander said that Professor Rathjen engaged in unwanted behavior by touching two colleagues on the bottom and kissing one of the women twice, after a work function.

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Professor Rathjen resigned as Vice Chancellor earlier this year. (ABC News: Dean Faulkner)

Mr. Lander discovered that Professor Rathjen had engaged in "gross misconduct".

According to Mr. Lander, P Professor Rathjen tried to downplay his behavior and disagreed with the two women's accounts when questioned by the ICAC.

"It was much worse considering her position within the university and the relative positions of the two women at the university."

The university announced Professor Rathjen's resignation last month, saying he would resign "due to health problems".

'I apologize to you both'

In his statement, Mr. Lander also said that a senior lawyer wrote to Professor Rathjen telling him that he was conducting an investigation into past historical allegations of sexual harassment or abuse .

Mr. Lander described the accusations against Professor Rathjen, related to the conduct of war. ds a graduate student while an academic at the University of Melbourne, as "very serious."

According to Mr. Lander, then-Chancellor Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce asked Professor Rathjen to respond to the allegations, and asked if there was anything else the university needed to know about his past conduct.

The commissioner found that Professor Rathjen "lied on his evidence", and had said that there was "nothing the chancellor needed to know regarding his past conduct."

"I have discovered that the vice chancellor lied to the chancellor because he knew, if he told the chancellor the truth, that he was subject to investigation in connection with a previous allegation of sexual misconduct it would jeopardize his tenure at the University of Adelaide, "said Lander.

In a statement, Professor Rathjen apologized to the women, but argued that "there was no need for this research", which he described as "procedurally inappropriate self".

"I also deeply regret the fact that, for reasons beyond their control, they were involved in a very public investigation that they did not seek and in which they did not want to participate.

" I apologize to both. "

But he said that Mr. Lander's finding of" gross misconduct "was" disproportionate to the conduct found ".

" Mr. Lander has rejected evidence and submissions that did not fit his narrative and he drew unwarranted inferences from those that did, "said Professor Rathjen.

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