New Zealand academic accused of sexually harassing colleague in Australia resigns

Dr Max Abbott, a senior New Zealand academic, was accused of harassing a more junior Australian-based colleague over a number of years, mostly by text. It sparked a disagreement about whether the New Zealand university had responded sufficiently to the allegations, which it acknowledged as serious, by undertaking an in-depth investigation of its staff member. I did this with a heavy heart, having been a dean for 29 years and playing a major role in the university’s development.” But whether AUT did properly investigate the allegations spurred a trans-Tasman dispute between the school and Paterson’s employer. Paterson alleges a pattern of harassment by text message that began in December 2017, which she said left her traumatised, and that continued into 2019. By August 2019, Paterson told the Guardian in an interview on Tuesday, she had had enough and claimed she was threatened with retaliation for asking Abbott to stop. She went to her university’s human resources department with hundreds of pages of emails and texts – some of which the Guardian has viewed – to make a complaint against Abbott. An ANU spokesperson told the Guardian on Tuesday: “We have provided AUT with comprehensive information on this matter and requested for them to investigate as is appropriate. “Our priority is always the wellbeing and welfare of our community, and if anyone brings such allegations to us, they are heard, they are believed and they are supported.” In an email on Tuesday, a spokesperson for AUT told the Guardian that a request for ANU to outline any further concerns it had about the investigation remained “unanswered”.