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Backlash Erupts as N.Y.U. Weighs Hiring Scientist Accused of Harassment

At the protest, Megan Kirchgessner, a postdoctoral fellow at the medical school, said she was disappointed that the school would consider hiring a person facing accusations of sexual harassment when the role could have been offered to someone from an underrepresented background in science.

“It was kind of a moment of a cynical reality check,” Ms. Kirchgessner said.

Deborah DeLair, a professor at the medical school, said hiring Dr. Sabatini would contradict the school’s policies on sexual misconduct.

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“The rules should apply to everyone regardless if you’re a well-known researcher,” she said. “You can’t say one thing and then do another.”

Several faculty members wrote a letter to the dean and vice dean of the medical school urging them not to recruit Dr. Sabatini. The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, said that such a move could have a profound impact on the reputation of the school. As of Wednesday, it had been signed by about 90 faculty members.

“While we understand there are still legal proceedings in progress and that the public does not yet have all of the facts, we are worried that this hiring would signal a shift in policy that conflicts with our commitment to provide a respectful training environment, a culture of respect for women, and zero tolerance of misconduct,” the letter stated.

In a statement, Dafna Bar-Sagi, vice dean of the medical school, said the administration was evaluating the allegations and would not make a hiring decision that would “deviate” from the school’s policies.

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“We are looking closely at Dr. Sabatini’s case because it is clear that many aspects of his departure from M.I.T. and the Whitehead Institute were never publicly scrutinized,” Dr. Bar-Sagi said. “Moreover, dozens of Dr. Sabatini’s peers and colleagues have shared with us views that are at odds with the investigation and its outcome. That said, we take the concerns we are hearing from our faculty and trainees very seriously.”

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