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UNM harassment case plays role in moves by 3 professors

Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal

Journal Staff Writer

Three professors at the University of New Mexico won’t be teaching classes in the fall for the anthropology department in connection with a recent sexual misconduct investigation of a professor in the department.

Professors Ronda Brulotte and Lindsay Smith, both in the ethnology department, told UNM they had “deep concern about recent events in the department and have decided to focus their contributions to UNM in other areas at this time.” Effectively, that means the two won’t be teaching classes for the department in the fall, said university spokeswoman Dianne Anderson.

The department will hire some temporary professors to fill in the teaching gaps caused by the professors’ absence.

The university also confirmed that professor Erin Debenport had left the university for a job at UCLA.

The news comes just after the university suspended Cristobal Valencia for a second time after new complaints.

Earlier this year, UNM found probable cause that Valencia had offered special treatment to some students and sexually harassed others. He was briefly suspended and was set to return to the classroom this fall under close monitoring from other faculty members. That decision angered some at the university.

Valencia, however, never got that chance to return as others at the university raised new complaints against him. The school suspended him as staff investigate the latest grievances. Valencia’s attorney Michael Mozes said he would not be speaking to the Journal about his client.

Brulotte, a former anthropology professor, was recently named the associate director for academic programs at the Latin American & Iberian Institute. She will no longer work in the anthropology building though she still holds the title of associate professor in anthropology. Smith is currently on research leave and holds the same title.

Brian Moore, an attorney representing two professors in the anthropology’s ethnology department, confirmed his clients left their roles as graduate student advisers “out of fear of retaliation.”

“One faculty member has left graduate committees specifically because of Dr. Valencia’s presence on the committees,” Moore said.

And he said that a faculty member recently left the university partially because of “frustration with the university’s response to the allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against Dr. Valencia.”