Court upholds findings of ‘fruitbatgate’ investigation

The Irish High Court has ruled that the findings of an investigation by University College Cork into the academic at the centre of the “fruitbatgate” affair should stand.

December 3, 2010

Dylan Evans was accused of sexual harassment after showing a female colleague a research paper on oral sex among fruit bats. The paper, “Fellatio by fruit bats prolongs copulation time”, appeared in the journal PLoS ONE.

An investigation by Cork concluded that the lecturer in behavioural science was guilty of sexual harassment under the university’s “dignity of respect” and “right to dignity” policies. After a judicial review of the case, the High Court this week ruled that both the investigation and its conclusions stood and should not be revisited.

However, the court also found that the sanction imposed on Dr Evans – although consistent with the university’s policies – was disproportionate. The sanctions, which included a two-year period of monitoring and counselling, were quashed by the court.

Despite this ruling, Dr Evans is likely to face further action after the court lifted a stay on disciplinary proceedings initiated by the university following an alleged breach of confidentiality that resulted in details of the case being leaked to the press.

Costs were awarded to Dr Evans, and both he and the university were given 21 days to appeal the outcome of the case.

A statement issued by Dr Evans’ lawyer says the lecturer is “very satisfied with the outcome of the judicial review proceedings”.

“It is unfortunate that he was placed in a position where he had to take these proceedings, however, his decision to do so has been fully justified by yesterday’s judgment supported by the award of his legal costs,” the statement says.

Last month, Dr Evans was awarded the President’s Award for Research on Innovative Forms of Teaching by Cork despite his ongoing battle with the university.

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com

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