Nobel Prize-winning economist to face sexual harassment investigation after alumni allegation
A US university is investigating a Nobel laureate over allegations of sexual harassment, which the economist’s lawyers dismiss as “professional competition”.
Philip Dybvig, who shared this year economics nobel prize for bank failure research, which has been questioned over the past few weeks by the Title IX office at Washington University in St. Louis, his attorney Andrew Miltenberg told The Associated Press.
Miltenberg said the allegations were “factually incorrect.” Dybvig, a longtime banking and finance professor at the university, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
Dybvig, fellow economist Douglas W. Diamond and former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke won the Nobel Prize in economics in October for their work on bank failure — work built on on the lessons learned during the Great Recession and helped shape America’s drastic response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis. The Nobel committee said the findings in the early 1980s laid the groundwork for regulating financial markets.
The Nobel committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in recognizing the three winners, said their research showed “why avoiding bank failures is so important”.
Bloomberg News reported that it had reviewed emails showing that the Title IX office, which handles sexual harassment complaints on campus, had contacted at least three alumni since October to interview them about it. claims related to Dybvig. They were among a group of seven alumni that Bloomberg said they spoke with who accused Dybvig of sexually harassing them. Most of the women Bloomberg interviewed spoke on condition of anonymity.
Tore Ellingsen, chair of the Nobel Committee for Economic Sciences Prizes, told Bloomberg that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which oversees the awards, has been in contact with the university to ensure that they there is a fair process for handling allegations.
“As long as the university has not determined that Dybvig did something wrong, I think we owe him an unflattering celebration of his great scientific achievement,” Ellingsen told Bloomberg.
The Foundation and the Nobel Peace Prize did not immediately respond to emails from the AP.
The university did not immediately respond on Friday to emails and phone messages from the AP. University spokeswoman Julie Flory told Bloomberg the university does not comment on specific cases but takes sexual misconduct seriously and will investigate any allegations.
Miltenberg said he doubts the timing of the allegations, noting that they came after the award was announced but before the scheduled awards ceremony.
“We believe,” he said, “that this is a competitive career situation.”
Miltenberg said that Dybvig was not subject to any restrictions and that he was scheduled not to teach in the spring semester “before” the allegations arose.
Miltenberg said he understands that the investigation is in the preliminary stages and that the Title IX office would like to speak with Dybvig again.
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