Renowned electrical engineering professor allegedly harassed graduate student

Sergio Verdu was Yeohee Im’s thesis adviser

According to an explosive report obtained by the Huffington Post, distinguished professor for electrical engineering Sergio Verdu, who received numerous awards for his work in information systems, allegedly harassed a graduate student from South Korea but was not disciplined in any way save a required training.

Yeohee Im, 23, who shared her allegations with the Huffington Post, stated that she received an invitation from Verdu to watch “the Handmaiden,” a movie that contains sexually explicit content, at his house. Im had been to Verdu’s residence before, but was particularly alarmed by Verdu’s invite.

While the movie was playing, Verdu asked Im if she had a boyfriend and put his arm around her shoulder, according to the Huffington Post. A month later, Verdu invited Im again for a movie. During that encounter, Verdu placed his hand on her thigh next to her underwear line and again inside her shirt around her stomach, Im told the Huffington Post.

A Title IX complaint Im filed was reviewed by Princeton. After a two-month investigation, the university found Verdu “responsible for sexual harassment,” but did not suspend or terminate him from his position. In 2016, a policy reform led by then Dean of Faculty Deborah Prentice had forbidden all faculty-student relationships.

The University released a statement to The Tab following the incident. The statement partly reads the following:

“When a member of the University community is found responsible for violating our sexual misconduct policy, a range of penalties may be imposed based on the facts of the case, including but not limited to warning,
probation, loss of leave or other privileges, suspension and dismissal. We require counseling and training for every individual found to have violated our policy, with the goal of stopping inappropriate behavior.”

Verdu denied all allegations in an email to the Huffington Post.

In sexual misconduct cases, the university also focuses on providing support to victims to “facilitate their continued success at the University,” says acting spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss. Im was allowed to re-designate a thesis adviser, however.

Verdu has co-taught the mandatory departmental course ELE 301, Designing Real Systems, in which he gave lectures about information systems. All juniors in the electrical engineering department were required to complete this course.

More to come…

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