Eyal Ben-Ari, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been suspended for two years without pay after a disciplinary panel ruled that he had engaged in inappropriate relations with three female students who were under his tutelage.
The panel ruled that Ben-Ari had exploited his position of authority to engage in intimate relations, including offering to share a hotel room with a student when they were both abroad for an academic function.
Ben-Ari was also determined to have improperly agreed to advise a female doctoral student despite the fact that they were known to have been involved in a close relationship. Such conduct "was unbecoming of a faculty member," the panel said.
The verdict comes three years after allegations first surfaced alleging that Ben-Ari had extorted sexual favors from female students over a number of years. However, he was not convicted of sexual harassment.
Ben-Ari will not be permitted to begin his sabbatical within the next two years. In addition, he will not be allowed to receive research funds or to operate research budgets.
The disciplinary panel also ruled that Ben-Ari will continue to receive his salary until the end of the current academic year and to advise doctoral students.
In July 2008, police launched an investigation against Ben-Ari after the university received anonymous complaints from a number of students. Prosecutors did not file an indictment against Ben-Ari due to lack of evidence and an expired statute of limitations.
Two years ago, the university conducted its own disciplinary review, during which some of the complainants came forward to give statements. The transgressions for which Ben-Ari was convicted took place between 1996 and 2003.
"The disciplinary panel determined that Prof. Ben-Ari's actions are grave and they inflicted significant harm to students and the Hebrew University," the university said in a statement.
Ben-Ari's attorneys released a statement in which they stated that their client was vindicated.
"After a long, drawn-out disciplinary process, Prof. Eyal Ben-Ari was ultimately acquitted of most of the actions of which he was accused, including all allegations of sexual harassment," they wrote. "The monstrous image which others tried to pin on him and which was fueled by lies has been blown to smithereens. The disciplinary panel itself acknowledged the suffering that was caused to Professor Ben-Ari as a result of the baseless accusations against him."
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