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Prosecution to look into harassment at UT

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PHOTO: Aldo Luud / Õhtuleht

Recent weeks have brought to the attention of the public an alleged harassment case at the University of Tartu in connection with which two criminal cases have now been opened. Rector Volli Kalm says that the university's peace has been disturbed, and that public treatment of the unseemly end of a relationship between a male professor and a former female employee and doctoral student has damaged the persons themselves, university staff, and the school as a whole.

There seems to be no end in sight for the saga the roots of which go back to 2013, however, as both sides have now turned to law enforcement authorities.

The Southern District Prosecutor's Office said one application has been filed by former UT employee and doctoral student against their tutor. The criminal matter is based on section 152 of the penal code and concerns violation of equality. A conviction would result in a fine or a prison sentence of up to one year. Both the alleged victim and her former tutor have been interviewed.

The second case is based on allegation of threatening. The alleged victim in this case is the aforementioned tutor. No suspicions have been brought.

The University of Tartu will continue its investigation into claims persons have been treated unequally at work. While the university has already agreed on good practices for studies, teaching, doctoral studies, and management, a corresponding manual is being put together for research.

Postimees learned of the case, covered at length by both Eesti Päevaleht and Eesti Ekspress, two years ago when a journalistic experiment revealed a man claiming to be a research fellow at the university who promised to change seniors' sciences examination scores in the national database in exchange for sex.

Because the case concerned a conflict born of a relationship between two adults and lacked elements of objective public interest, Postimees decided not to publish the case at the time. The case was brought to light by Eesti Päevaleht during a time when the university is preparing to elect a new rector.

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