Timothy Frederick Slater, now at the University of Wyoming, was found in violation of the sexual harassment policy by the University of Arizona. (U. Wyoming)

Sexual harassment is everywhere – especially in the sciences. But astronomers are pushing back against the systemic problems in their field. On Tuesday, two new cases of sexual harassment in the academic world of astronomy came to light, making for three high-profile outings in as many months.

In October, Buzzfeed News broke the story that Geoff Marcy – an astronomer frequently cited as a potential Nobel laureate – had been investigated by the University of California at Berkeley for violating the school's sexual harassment policy. The six-month-long investigation found several instances in which Marcy had been guilty of harassment, but he received only a warning – and students outside of the allegations were not informed of the investigation.

On Tuesday, Buzzfeed's Azeen Ghorayshi reported another troubling story: Caltech astrophysicist Christian Ott was found to have violated school harassment policies with two different women working in his lab. Buzzfeed reports that Sarah Gossan, a former student in Ott's lab, filed a complaint with Caltech’s Title IX office when she "realized that her deteriorating relationship with Ott was harming her work and emotional well-being." Ott had drawn Gossan into frequent, emotional online chats  during which he confessed to her that he'd been in love with Io Kleiser, another of his students, who would eventually join Gossan in filing the complaint.

According to the school's investigation and Ghorayshi's reporting, Ott expressed distress over his love for Kleiser, even posting 86 poems about the researcher on Tumblr – though Kleiser herself was unaware of his feelings. Kleiser was fired suddenly when Ott claimed to be disappointed and personally hurt by her lack of commitment to the lab, forcing her to find another adviser with whom to finish her degree. He revealed to Gossan that he'd fired Kleiser because he worried that her sexual sway over him was allowing her to slack off, despite her being unaware of his feelings.

Caltech responded by suspending Ott and banning him from campus for a year, which was announced (without attaching his name or the details of the case) this month. “Because Christian still has a place at Caltech, I feel that I don’t,” Kleiser told BuzzFeed News. She's since left to finish her studies at Berkeley, but Gossan is finishing at Caltech – and may very well overlap with Ott's return to campus. “If they retain Christian and keep a place for him, then they may be inadvertently telling many students that those students do not have a place at Caltech," Kleiser said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) named another astronomer during a speech Tuesday. The University of Wyoming's Timothy Frederick Slater was found in violation of the sexual harassment policy during his previous appointment at the University of Arizona. He allegedly commented on the appearances of women in his lab, held meetings in strip clubs and gave a vibrator to a female student as a gift, among other things. “Students enter astronomy to study the stars, not their professor’s sex life," Speier said during her presentation.

Slater stayed at the University of Arizona for four years after the investigation, and he underwent training to improve his behavior. But Mashable reports that the University of Wyoming didn't receive or review the investigation against him before he was hired. He essentially moved there with a clean slate – and that's what Speier is trying to keep from happening in the future. She plans on introducing legislation that would make universities share these investigations.

In an interview with Mashable, Slater and his wife (prominent academic Stephanie Slater) said that his reprimand and training had worked, and that he was reformed. Indeed, there are no cases against him at his current institution. Stephanie Slater blamed the spotlight shone on her husband on "hysteria."

"Many of us in the astronomy community are sort of worried about the witch hunt that’s going on post-Marcy,” she told Mashable. “I’m not apologizing for Geoff Marcy. But I am saying that the process was illegitimate, and it’s having a quite chilling effect in our community."

But others in the field see it differently: Many astronomers say that harassment has been endemic in their field for decades, and that these cases are just the tip of the iceberg. At the 227th meeting of the American Astronomical Society last week, nipping harassment in the bud was one of the major topics up for discussion. Perhaps this isn't the worst year for astronomy, but the best. Perhaps this isn't a witch hunt, but a reckoning.

In any case, it's clear that this isn't a problem that can be solved by bringing a handful of cases to light. It very well could be that astronomy's sexual harassment problem is no worse than any other field of academia, but there's obviously a problem. Either way, it's up to leaders in the field to set an example, making it clear to insiders and outsiders alike that harassment has no place on their turf.

Correction: An earlier version of this post credited Buzzfeed with breaking news of the Caltech case. Ott's identity was in fact reported first by ScienceInsider on Tuesday, with Buzzfeed's in-depth report following shortly thereafter.

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