Scientist sues the US National Academy of Sciences after being expelled | Sciences

Luis Jaime Castillo Butters, a prominent Peruvian archaeologist who was one of the first members of the US National Academy of Sciences to be removed after a 2019 statute update allowed expulsion for documented misconduct violations, filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against the academy and NAS president Marcia. McNutt this month. The lawsuit alleges that “NAS and McNutt made false and defamatory statements…regarding alleged sexual harassment by Castillo.”

NAS terminated the archaeologist’s membership in October 2021 after his institution, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), found “indications of sexual harassment.” “I am totally and utterly innocent of all of these claims,” ​​Castillo Butters said. SciencesInsider at the moment. He then filed a defamation lawsuit in Peru against one of his accusers, Marcela Poirier, administrator of cultural and educational resources in Lima. A judge ruled in her favor in May, fining Poirier $48,400 and giving him a 1-year, 8-month suspended prison sentence.

The new lawsuit, filed in Washington, DC, on October 7, and first reported yesterday by freelance journalist Michael Balter on his blog, alleges that NAS and McNutt made “baseless, false, and malicious” statements about Castillo Butters, including in a press release. , and did not acknowledge the success of his libel case against Poirier. “They continue to show reckless disregard by not publicly reversing course,” the lawsuit reads. (McNutt served as editor-in-chief of Sciences from 2013 to 2016).

The lawsuit does not specify what statements Castillo Butters finds defamatory, and there are currently no statements or press releases visible on the NAS website, other than an acknowledgment that Castillo Butters’ membership was terminated due to a violation of the Code of Conduct. from the academy. Castillo Butters’ attorney declined to share documentation to support the allegations. “All of our evidence will be presented at trial,” he wrote in an email. NAS also refused to confirm or deny whether a press release was in fact issued. “We are aware of the lawsuit and are reviewing it,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “At this time, we do not have any additional comment.”

Legal battles over the case also continue in Peru. Poirier appealed the verdict in his case and hearings began this week. “I think the original verdict will be overturned,” Poirier wrote in an email to SciencesWell-informed person. “But I also need to remind myself that I am in a difficult situation, that our society and institutions are still miles apart. [from] know how to handle gender-based violence and how to care for victims and survivors.” Castillo Butters declined to comment.

Ahead of this week’s hearings in Peru, the United Nations issued a statement expressing concern about the precedent that the trial against Poirier could set. “We are concerned that the lower court ruling that convicted Poirier did not integrate a victim-centered and gender-sensitive approach,” the statement read. “If the court’s decision is upheld, it could silence other victims and survivors of sexual violence and prevent them from speaking out against their assailants.”

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