The victim filed the lawsuit this week in Alameda County Superior Court that sues him for sexual harassment, failure to prevent harassment, retaliation, infliction of emotional distress and assault. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Choudhry hugged and kissed her almost daily and the harassment began in September 2014 until March 2015.The July 2015 campus investigative report corroborated the claims made by the victim and also said that Choudhry “admitted” to hugging, kissing her on the cheek, touching her shoulders and arms from behind while she sat at her desk, squeezing her arm when he passed by her desk and holding her hands to his waist. The report said that she had written a six page email in March 2015 to Choudhry detailing her objections. UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination had investigated the claims by Tyann Sorrell and concluded that Choudhry “violated policy (and) demonstrated a failure to understand the power dynamic and the effect of his actions on the (assistant) personally and in her employment,” Provost Claude Steele said.
As punishment at the time, the dean was docked 10 percent of his pay for one year — from $415,000 to $373,500 — and told to apologize. Steele said he also required Choudhry to see a counselor at his own expense.
Despite the dean’s resignation, he will continue to be paid $284,000 as a professor. A procedure involving witnesses, a judgment by the Academic Senate, and a ratification by the UC regents is required to fire a tenured professor.
Sorrell’s lawsuit says Choudhry’s punishment was far too light. The dean had kept his job, while Sorrell remains on paid leave. During the investigation, it says, Sorrell was told to use her own vacation and sick leave to be paid. It was only after Sorrell sued that the campus placed the dean on leave and further reduced his pay by an unspecified amount.
In a statement,Choudhry said that he will defend himself in court. “There are two sides to every narrative,” he said.
The suit says Sorrell is a former victim of domestic and sexual abuse. It claims “Choudhry had a temper and was known for berating and being rude and dismissive of employees when they upset him.” Sorrell would make her body go limp and keep her arms at her sides before pushing the dean away, according to the complaint. She became anxious and depressed, and sought help from a therapist, it says. Sorrell says she reported the alleged harassment in February 2015, but says it continued. She made a more formal complaint in March 2015 and says it took two weeks for the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination to respond.