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Lawrence Krauss banned from Arizona State University campus following misconduct allegations

07 Mar 2018 Michael Banks
Image of Lawrence Krauss
Lawrence Krauss speaking at a TAM event

Arizona State University (ASU) has put the astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss on paid leave following allegations of sexual misconduct that appeared last month in Buzzfeed. Krauss is a prominent physicist and is founder and director of ASU’s Origins Project. He has also written several popular-science books and appeared in TV documentaries. The Origins Project is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a series of events between 5-9 April. It is not known whether this will now go ahead.

Following the allegations, ASU stated that the university had not received any complaints from ASU students, faculty or staff about Krauss. However, it added that it had begun a review on 22 February “to discern the facts” and encouraged “anyone who has concerns about faculty, staff or students to report those concerns”.

Yet in a statement released yesterday, and seen by Physics World,  the university has now banned Krauss from the ASU campus. “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,” the statement says.

ASU insists that no further details about the review will be released until it is complete. “The university encourages anyone in our community who has concerns about interactions with faculty, staff or students to report those concerns,” it says, adding that the university provides multiple reporting options, including “through the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Office of Equity and Inclusion or by calling the ASU Hotline”.

A valued member

Krauss has also resigned as chairman of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which is best-known for its “Doomsday Clock”. The closer the clock is to midnight, the more likely it is that nuclear war or climate change will lead to catastrophe. In a press conference in January, attended by Krauss, the clock was moved forward to read two minutes to midnight.

Buzzfeed was provided with abundant counter-evidence that was ignored or distorted in their story

Lawrence Krauss

In a letter dated 6 March to Rachel Bronson, president and chief-executive officer of the Bulletin, Krauss denied the allegations in the Buzzfeed article claiming they were “incorrect”. “Buzzfeed was provided with abundant counter-evidence that was ignored or distorted in their story,” he wrote.  “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,” he added.

In a short statement, Bronson noted that 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 news comes as several events have cancelled appearances that Krauss was due to make including the American Physical Society, which announced that he would not be speaking at its April meeting that will be held in Columbus, Ohio, on 14-17 April. He was supposed to be speaking at a session on the legacy of Richard Feynman.

  • Update 8 March: Lawrence Krauss has published a nine-page response to the Buzzfeed allegations while ASU has reportedly cancelled the event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Origins Project.

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