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Rutgers finds no evidence of sexual harassment by professor, accuser's attorneys criticize investigation

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Rutgers closed its investigation into Stephen Bronner, a former Rutgers professor in the Department of Political Science who was accused of sexual harassment, according to an article from NJ Advance Media.

The University did not provide information regarding the case, but Bronner himself shared a letter written on March 25 from Harry Agnostak, associate vice president for Labor and Employee Relations, according to the article. The letter said the University interviewed 15 witnesses and found no evidence that Bronner violated any sexual harassment policies or put students at risk.

The Daily Targum previously reported Bronner retired in November 2019 after Kristy King, a former Rutgers student and current professor at Arizona State University, accused him of running his hand up her thigh approximately 20 years ago along with other sexual harassment claims. NJ Advance Media also reported a second, unnamed student was harassed by Bronner at a bar on campus in 2008.

The investigation lasted approximately 18 months, first ending in August but leading to an appeal which was denied in March, according to the article. Bronner said he was "exonerated," but attorneys from Konidaris Law and the Gender Equality Law Center, who are representing King, released a statement dismissing this claim, according to the article.

"To be clear, Dr. Bronner was not 'exonerated.' Rutgers' investigative process was not a criminal prosecution but a closed-door investigation that occurred in fits and starts," the attorneys said, according to the article.

The letter from Agnostak also said six potential witnesses were contacted but could not be reached, which King's attorneys said could have been a result of fear of retaliation and likely skewed the investigation, according to the article.

"We are disappointed not simply by the outcome of the investigation but also by the way in which it was conducted," the attorneys said, according to the article. "As Rutgers moves into a new era combating gender-based violence and misconduct on campus, we urge the University to continue to scrutinize the quality and integrity of its investigations."

The University's sexual harassment policy previously stated claims from more than two years ago could not be investigated. This rule, King's allegations against Bronner and other stories of sexual harassment at Rutgers were publicized in a 2018 NJ Advance Media article, resulting in the University changing its policy to investigate older sexual harassment claims, according to the article.

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