New York’s Natural History Museum Curator Resigns Following Sexual Misconduct Investigations

He will continue to work remotely until the end of the year.

American Museum of Natural History, New York. Photo: Ingfbruno, via Wikipedia.
American Museum of Natural History, New York. Photo: Ingfbruno, via Wikipedia.

Paleontologist Brian Richmond resigned from his position as curator of human origins of New York’s American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) yesterday following two years of speculation.

It all began in late 2014 when a colleague filed a complaint against him for allegedly sexually assaulting her at an anthropological conference in Florence, Italy. Since then, the ANHM has enlisted three investigations into the incident, in addition to hearing a series of accounts from young, field-working trainees who reportedly stated that tales about Richmond’s sexual misconduct came as no surprise.

Although the museum initially stated that Richmond “violated the Museum’s policy prohibiting inappropriate relationships between supervisors and subordinates,” as reported by Science, a sexual harassment investigation on Richmond by faculty members at George Washington University meant that the museum continued to investigate.

In light of their findings, the ANHM called for Richmond’s resignation earlier this year, while also requiring that he work off-site for the remainder of his time as curator. However, the resignation was not official until the museum released its statement yesterday, announcing that as of December 31, 2016, Richmond will no longer work for the museum, but will be paid one year’s salary due to his formerly tenured contract, Science reports.

While Richmond maintains his claims to Science that he “never had a complaint leveled against [him] at the Museum or throughout [his] career except for one in late 2014,” his case has exposed the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and misconduct both in his field of paleoanthropology and academia at large, as detailed in the SAFE study by biological anthropologist Kathryn Clancy of the University of Illinois in Urbana.

The American Museum of Natural History has yet to begin its search for a new curator, but is making efforts to ensure the safety of its employees’ working environments.


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