Volume 91, Issue 93

Wednesday, March 25, 1998



Sex allegations at UBC

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

While allegations of sexual misconduct continue to flurry around American President Bill Clinton, similar accusations have begun to surface at the University of British Columbia.

A British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal hearing has now witnessed both sides in an allegation of sexual discrimination and will continue to hear the third side in regard to the university's involvement.

Fariba Mahmoodi has accused psychology professor Don Dutton, an expert in domestic abuse who testified in the O.J. Simpson trial, of offering to help her get into graduate school in return for sex.

Statements made by Dutton so far suggest Mahmoodi was stalking him and he was made the victim of extortion with a tape which has both music and damaging statements made by the professor. Yet Dutton denies the validity of the tape.

University expert David Van Buskirk and expert for the council of the complaintant Har Singh Khalsa, are both on record saying they do not believe the tape sounds as if Dutton's voice was added after the fact yet both also admit there is some doubt, said Mahmoodi's lawyer Clea Parfitt.

The university was also involved in the case due to accusations by Mahmoodi that an internal investigation by the equity office was transferred to the dean of social science Pat Marchak, who did not favour the claims of Mahmoodi and only put a note of discipline on Dutton's file, Parfitt said.

Although a ruling on this hearing will not be made for some time, a similar problem between a UBC medical professor and his secretary was only recently resolved in January. In that case, David Levitt eventually pled guilty to common assault and was sentenced to an 18-month probation by a B.C. tribunal hearing.

June Williamson said Levitt tried to kiss her – which he admitted to –and touched her breast, which the medical professor said may only have been done inadvertently, said deputy registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. Morris VanAndel.

The college conducted their own investigation of Levitt which resulted in a formal reprimand and held him accountable for a portion of the costs involved. Levitt was also ordered to seek counselling.

Paula Martin, UBC spokesperson, said the university does not want to comment on disciplinary action Levitt may face and said they just want to let the witnesses be heard in the Dutton case.

The hearings for the current case have gone into recess this week and will resume Monday for four days in order to hear further comment from university witnesses involved in the case including Marchak.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998