The #MeToo movement has claimed a brilliant scientist
The #MeToo movement, which thankfully seemed to have peaked in 2018, is still managing to do significant damage by allowing a cadre of malicious women to destroy men’s reputations with ludicrous assertions about alleged sexual harassment or abuse. One case may have long-lasting repercussions for Americans’ health and well-being: Biologist David Sabatini, a brilliant cancer researcher, is unemployed thanks to laughable accusations and a seeming workplace witch hunt, and now finds himself unemployable.
Here are the facts of the case, all gleaned from Suzy Weiss, who wrote at Bari Weiss’s Common Sense about Sabatini’s travails:
Sabatini was doing sophisticated, highly important cancer research at MIT. He seemed like a shoo-in for the Nobel Prize in science and was receiving huge government grants to keep his research going. Suzy Weiss writes that “his colleagues have described him to me with words like ‘genius,’ ‘one of the best scientists alive,’ and ‘a pillar.’ However, thanks to a truly risible sexual harassment claim, he is unemployable.
In April 2018, when he was 50 and in the process of getting divorced, Sabatini began a relationship with another scientist, Kristin Knouse, who was then 29 years old. They worked in unrelated labs at the Whitehead Institute and he had no supervisory role over her work. Sabatini thought they were friends with benefits because Knouse left him with the impression that she was also having sex with other men.
In August 2018, the Whitehead Institute announced a new policy banning any consensual or sexual relationships between coworkers. Sabatini ignored it because not a lot was happening between him and Knouse. Nevertheless, even after he’d started a relationship with another woman, Knouse still wanted him. In January 2020, she was still trying to keep the relationship going.
By October 2020, when Knouse’s Whitehead fellowship ended, she didn’t seek a faculty position and, for the first time, told a new director (a woman) that she’d been harassed. The next month, she told someone that a mentor (presumably Sabatini) was going to be “Weinstein’ed out of science.”
Image: David Sabatini. YouTube screen grab.
Things happened fast after that, with Whitehead sending questionnaires to employees, two of whom complained about a “bro culture”—the only complaints after his 24 years of work at the lab. A legal team investigated and produced a 248-page report, that led to Sabatini getting fired. Indeed, from MIT down, every organization with which he was connected fired him. He was suddenly persona non grata, unemployed and unemployable.
Suzy Weiss drilled down into that 248-page report and claims that the only substantive finding was that Sabatini didn’t disclose his relationship with Knouse. There were also vague claims of a “sexualized undercurrent in the lab,” and an assertion that Sabatini had an “indirect influence” over Knouse (who did not report to him). The mere fact that he was older and had more seniority than a woman who had no direct workplace connection with him justified ending his career.
There was no evidence that Sabatini harassed or discriminated against women in his lab. His sin seems to have been liking science too much and making his lab a fun place. These are the kinds of things that offend the Puritans on the left, especially the feminist Puritans. (Please note that, despite their obsession with sex, leftists are extremely Puritanical. Sex is never to be confused with fun, and fun is not allowed.)
A year later, his life in tatters, Sabatini sued Knouse, Whitehead, and the head of Whitehead. Knouse counterclaimed, alleging among other things that Sabatini “groomed” her. Think of that: A 29-year-old professional claiming that she was groomed by someone who didn’t want to have a relationship with her. (Weiss notes that none of the defendants in Sabatini’s lawsuit would speak with her.)
Immediately after Sabatini filed suit, Whitehead’s attorney informed his former colleagues that under NIH rules, none of them could have any contact with Sabatini. Not only was he frozen out of work, but he’d also been “un-personed.”
It’s not just the scientific community either. When a friend who is a dean at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine tried to give Sabatini a job, the uproar there was so loud that the Grossman School made a public promise not to hire him.
Third-wave feminism, which is what’s happening in America today, is toxic. First-wave feminism was concerned with getting the vote and it made sense. Second-wave feminism was concerned with equal pay for equal work and it too made sense.
Third-wave feminism is a man-hating variant powered by women who have been taught, mostly in college, that men are the enemy. Generally (and I’m making no claim about Knouse), these third-wave feminists are damaged women whose promiscuity is sometimes epic. Then, suddenly, they’ll feel used and abused. At that moment, they turn on the last person with whom they had a “relationship,” believing he’s responsible for their new self-loathing. It’s much easier to destroy a man than to examine one’s own choices and make changes.