NUS sacks American professor for sexually harassing student

Hopf in a 2013 photo. Photo: Ted Hopf/Facebook
Hopf in a 2013 photo. Photo: Ted Hopf/Facebook

Yet another professor from the National University of Singapore has been accused of sexually harassing a student. 

Two months after firing an instructor it said sexually assaulted two students, the university today dismissed political science professor Theodore Geoffrey Hopf for sexually harassing a student, saying the 61-year-old academic had given the student alcohol and made an “offensive” comment about the student’s body. Hopf, the school said, made an unconvincing excuse for sexting the student two years ago.

“Prof Hopf was found to have sexually harassed the student, and this behaviour falls short of the standards of professionalism expected of a teaching staff of the University.” the school said in a statement. “Given the serious nature of the offences, the University decided to dismiss him on 1 December 2020 with immediate effect.”

The university also said that it filed a police report against Hopf, who is a U.S. national, on Friday and notified the victim about it. The school withheld identifying information about the student to protect his or her privacy.

Neither Hopf, who was the provost chair professor of political science, nor the police had responded to Coconuts’ requests for comment as of publication time. 

Investigations began in August after the university said it received an anonymous complaint about Hopf, who was suspended a month later and banned from contacting any student while his actions were being probed. 

Findings from an independent inquiry later found that both the student, who studied arts and social sciences, drank alcohol together on campus in August. That’s when Hopf allegedly made “an offensive remark about certain parts of the student’s anatomy” and purportedly pulled the student “forcefully” toward him twice. 

NUS said Hopf admitted to making the remark and found the student’s account of the “unwelcome physical contact to be credible.” Hopf had denied grabbing the student but admitted to placing his hands on the student’s shoulders, according to NUS.

The university also found that the same student received a sexual text message from Hopf in 2018. It rejected Hopf’s later explanation that he’d mistakenly sent it to the wrong person. 

“As Prof Hopf did not clearly inform the student that the message was meant for someone else, and he also did not apologise for sending the message by mistake, the COI established that this was a serious professional misconduct,” it said. 

The university then concluded that the professor had “failed to act with propriety, respect, and decorum in relation to the student.”

“The COI also found that Prof Hopf, who was in a position of authority, had sexually harassed the student in physical, verbal and written forms,” it said. 

According to his CV, Hopf joined the university in 2012. He was previously at the Ohio State University and has authored several research papers and books, including Reconstructing the Cold War: The Early Years, 1945-1958.

This is the school’s third sexual misconduct case in as many months. In October, it fired professor Jeremy Fernando in the wake of accusations he made sexual advances toward two students, drawing complaints it waited weeks before notifying the student body. Earlier, in September, a Chinese research professor resigned after a colleague accused him of groping her.

Other stories you should check out:

NUS researcher levels ‘cyberbullying’ complaint against Chinese scholar accused of groping her

Teen Singapore singer says she was sexually groomed, controlled by former manager

NUS staff ‘disappointed’ with probe against former director who hugged without consent

NUS students demand transparency after professor accused of sexual assault

NUS says it has reported lecturer accused of sexual assault to police

NUS professor linked to BDSM event sacked after sexual misconduct allegations

NUS China scholar accused of sexual misconduct resigns

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