Acclaimed UC Berkeley astronomist resigns amid sexual harassment claims

BERKELEY, Calif. -- In a stunning development, an acclaimed UC Berkeley astronomist resigned amid accusations that he sexually harassed women over a nine year period, and criticism that the university didn't do enough to punish him. Geoffrey Marcy had been an astronomy professor at Cal for 16 years until Wednesday morning. ABC7 News reporter Laura Anthony broke the story of the 61-year-old's resignation.

There's been a fair amount of public pressure on social media for quite some time. But the tipping point for Marcy, who was internationally respected in his field, seemed to be the fact that 2/3 of his colleagues at the Astronomy Department voted that he should be let go.

"I'm glad he decided to take responsibility for this," said student Monica Wan. "I think having such allegations against him, if he continued as a professor, I definitely would not have taken his class."

In June, a university investigation found Marcy had groped, kissed, and massaged a series of female students between 2001 and 2010, but he was allowed to keep his job.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks called the resignation appropriate and said: "We want to state unequivocally that Prof. Marcy's conduct, as determine by the investigation, was contemptible and inexcusable. We also want to express our sympathy to the women who were victimized."

"If he has to, you know, resign himself and he just gets a slap on the hand, what does that say for all the other professors who may be doing that," said student Emily Swide.

"Everybody knew about this, everybody in astronomy," said UC Public Policy Professor Michael O'Hare.

He was among those publicly calling for greater accountability.

"It's one more stage in the unfolding of a tragedy for almost everybody concerned," said O'Hare. "And in the end, it's the result of bad management."

Marcy could not be reached for comment. But a week ago he apologized on his website and said: "While I do not agree with each complaint that was made, it is clear that my behavior was unwelcomed by some women. I take full responsibility."

Marcy is considered a Nobel Prize contender for his work discovering large planets around other stars.
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