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University Puts Physicist Lawrence Krauss On Paid Leave While It Investigates Sexual Harassment Allegations

On Tuesday, Arizona State University said that professor Lawrence Krauss is banned from campus while the school investigates allegations revealed in a BuzzFeed News article. The announcement followed Krauss’s resignation from the elite “Doomsday Clock” group.

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Updated on

Lawrence Krauss, the celebrity physicist who has become embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, has been placed on paid leave at Arizona State University.

On February 22, BuzzFeed News revealed a long history of allegations of Krauss’s behavior outside the ASU campus, including groping several women. The story also alleged that he made sexist comments to ASU employees.

“In an effort to avoid further disruption to the normal course of business as the university continues to gather facts about the allegations, Krauss has been placed on paid leave and is prohibited from being on campus for the duration of the review,” said the ASU statement, released Tuesday evening.

The statement noted that ASU began its review before the article was published, when BuzzFeed contacted the school about some of the allegations.

Krauss is a tenured professor and leads the university’s Origins Project, which puts on public events to explore questions about the origins of the universe, life, and social systems. According to a publicly available database, his annual salary in 2017 was $265,000.

Krauss did not immediately respond to a request for comment, made through his lawyer, about ASU’s decision.

Earlier on Tuesday, Krauss resigned as chair of the elite scientific organization responsible for the “Doomsday Clock.” That symbolic clock, maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is intended to warn how close humanity is to a nuclear apocalypse.

In his resignation letter to the Bulletin, Krauss denied all of the allegations against him.

“Amid the reactions immediately following the recent BuzzFeed article about me, I expect that many Bulletin subscribers and fans were upset. I want to assure them, and you, that the claims about me in the story are incorrect,” he wrote. “BuzzFeed was provided with abundant counter-evidence that was ignored or distorted in the story.”

Krauss has chaired the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 2009. His resignation letter indicates that fellow board members urged him to step down to avoid becoming a distraction:

“I appreciate the kind words you relayed from my colleagues on the board and understand from our discussions that the board feels that as a result of the various reactions to the article my presence on the Board of Sponsors at this time distracts from the ability of the Bulletin to effectively carry out that work.”

In a brief statement, Bulletin president Rachel Bronson, said: “Lawrence Krauss has been a valued member of the Board, and has greatly contributed to the Bulletin’s mission during this perilous moment in global affairs.”

The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and former Manhattan Project scientists who were concerned about the destructive power of the weapons they had created. It publishes a well-respected journal, and its board of sponsors includes 15 Nobel laureates.

The group’s Doomsday Clock serves as a symbolic warning of the threat of nuclear annihilation. The scientists who decide whether to move the clock’s hands nowadays also consider the threat of climate change.

In January, Krauss and other board members moved the clock’s hand from two-and-a-half to two minutes to midnight, in response to increasing tensions over nuclear threats and denial by political leaders of the science of climate change.

Krauss’s resignation from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists follows the American Physical Society’s decision to withdraw his invitation to its April meeting. And on Monday the Center for Inquiry, a leading group in the US skeptic community, which promotes reason and science, suspended its association with him. Krauss had been an honorary member of CFI’s board of directors since 2011.

UPDATE

This story has been updated with ASU's announcement that it has placed Krauss on paid leave.


Peter Aldhous is a Science Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. His secure PGP fingerprint is 225F B2AF 4B8E 6E3D B1EA 7F9A B96E BF7D 9CB2 9B16

Contact Peter Aldhous at peter.aldhous@buzzfeed.com.

Virginia Hughes is a science editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Virginia Hughes at virginia.hughes@buzzfeed.com.

Azeen Ghorayshi is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Her PGP Fingerprint is 672A 7C08 9443 A95F 9D85 78FB 91EB 9C30 B197 5963.

Contact Azeen Ghorayshi at azeen.ghorayshi@buzzfeed.com.

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