A professor at Northwestern University’s prestigious journalism school denied Wednesday accusations of “predatory” behavior from nearly a dozen former students and employees in a letter sent to the school’s administration.
Alec Klein, director of the Medill Justice Project, is accused in the letter of attempting to kiss one woman, inviting another to his hotel room for drinks and displaying “controlling, discriminatory, emotionally and verbally abusive behavior,” in the letter. He also gave “unwanted neck massages” to a female employee trying to work, the letter said.
The university said Wednesday it received a message from two former employees alleging inappropriate conduct by Klein.
“The University takes seriously all complaints that are brought to its attention,” Northwestern said in a statement. “Many of the allegations were contained in a complaint brought several years ago by a former employee. At that time, the University conducted a thorough investigation and the complaint was not substantiated. Northwestern will now review the allegations received today.”
The administration encouraged anyone who was a victim of alleged harassment or misconduct to contact at the university to contact the Office of Equity.
Klein, in his own statement, said the claims of harassment and misconduct were unfounded.
“I categorically deny the allegations and intend to take legal action,” he said. “Many of the allegations involved a disgruntled former employee who had been on a corrective-action plan for poor work performance several years ago.”
Klein cited anonymous student course evaluations praising his class and professionalism as further proof the claims were false.
“In their anonymous evaluations, my students have overwhelmingly indicated they had a wonderful experience in my classes, and not once have they accused me of any mistreatment,” he said. “In their anonymous evaluations, my students have overwhelmingly said the class was among the best they have ever taken, and they have specifically noted how much I care for them.”
The claims in the letter, which the signees refer to us a Medill’s “#MeToo moment,” also say Klein scolded students “to the point of tears over minor or perceived offenses.”
Prior to Medill, according to his bio on Northwestern’s website, Klein taught journalism at Georgetown University and American University.