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Resignation Over Sexual Misconduct

The University of Chicago's Jason Lieb has resigned following a university recommendation that he be fired for violating the school's sexual misconduct policy, the New York Times reports. Lieb has been involved in modEncode, the development of FAIRE-seq, among other omics work.

During an off-campus retreat for the molecular biosciences division, Lieb made unwelcome sexual advances to several female graduate students and had sex with a student who was incapacitated by alcohol and could not consent, according to the school's investigation letter cited by the Times.

"In light of the severity and pervasiveness of Professor Lieb's conduct, and the broad, negative impact the conduct has had on the educational and work environment of students, faculty, and staff, I recommend that the university terminate Professor Lieb's academic appointment," the letter, signed by the assistant provost and director of the office for equal opportunity programs Sarah Wake, says.

While students and other faculty praised the school for its quick response, some wondered whether Lieb should've been hired in the first place, the Times adds.

As he was being considered for the post, an anonymous email informed faculty members that Lieb been investigated for sexual harassment or misconduct during his previous jobs at Princeton University and the University of North Carolina.

Chicago's Yoav Gilad tells the Times, though, when Princeton was contacted, it said there was no investigation. However, during the interview process, Gilad notes that Lieb told them that Princeton had admonished him for not disclosing an unwanted contact complaint filed against him at UNC and Lieb said he'd had a months-long affair with a graduate student in his lab while at UNC.

As Lieb hadn't been found guilty of an offense at UNC, the Chicago human genetics department voted unanimously to hire him, according to Gilad.

"Even if they did a full investigation and didn't find anything, notes should be available to potential employers," Erin Fry, a graduate student in Chicago's department of human genetics, tells the Times. "They say it's to protect privacy, but in the case of sexual misconduct it just protects people like Jason Lieb."