Berkeley Prof Accused of Harassment Sues Accusers

Blake Wentworth also suing school
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2016 1:15 PM CDT
Berkeley Prof Accused of Harassment Sues Accusers
A University of California-Berkeley instructor is suing the women accusing him of sexual harassment.   (Getty Images)

A UC Berkeley instructor accused of sexual harassment has now filed lawsuits against three accusers, as well as the school system itself, reports. Blake Wentworth, an instructor in the college's South and Southeast Asian Studies Department, first filed a defamation suit Sept. 20 against Nicole Hemenway, followed by another suit against PhD students Erin Bennett and Kathleen Gutierrez on Sept. 22, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. On Wednesday, he added the U of California Board of Regents to the list, lodging a complaint for an unspecified amount in damages for what he says was the school's harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against him, including punishing him for his depression and bipolar disorder. Bennett and Gutierrez had filed a complaint with the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing in April 2015, claiming the school let Wentworth teach even after they'd reported his unwanted touching and sex references.

Hemenway, meanwhile, said Wentworth kept calling her "honey bear" and hinting they should date when she graduated, the Guardian reports. But, per the Daily Californian, Wentworth said in his Sept. 22 suit that neither Bennett nor Gutierrez ever told him his behavior made them uncomfortable, and that both women went after him for sexual harassment only after other academic issues arose that they wanted to deflect. And in his Sept. 20 suit, he says Hemenway told him via email she didn't find his behavior inappropriate. Meanwhile, Wentworth says the SSEAS head alerted the campus Title IX office of Bennett's complaint just two days after Wentworth suffered a "major psychological crisis," "[resurrecting] Bennett’s meritless assertions as a pretext to build a file on [Wentworth] and get rid of a disabled professor." Wentworth is on paid leave until the case resolves, a campus rep tells the Californian. (The NPS is getting serious about harassment.)

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