US law teacher probed over sex abuse reports

Yang Meiping
An American law teacher at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics is being probed over allegations of sexual harassment.
Yang Meiping

SHANGHAI University of Finance and Economics said it has launched an investigation against one of its foreign teachers after reports of sexual harassment were posted online.

The university said it had learnt about the allegations against American professor Ezra Wasserman Mitchell through anonymous online posts and on social media. It maintained that it had not received any complaints from students against Mitchell.

The university said it also has in its possession a booklet with US media reports about alleged sexual misconduct by Lawrence E. Mitchell, who was the former dean of law school at Case Western Reserve University.

The American professor has changed his name from Lawrence E. Mitchell to Ezra Wasserman Mitchell.

The university is under pressure to explain why it had invited the controversial professor to teach at the law school.

The booklet carries an article published by the Cleveland Scene Magazine about a lawsuit filed in 2013 by Mitchell’s former colleague Raymond Ku.

Ku, a former associate dean at the American law school, had alleged that he had witnessed Mitchell’s sexually inappropriate behavior with female staff members and had heard from others that the dean had propositioned female students for threesomes.

The report claimed that Ku had reported to the university’s provost, vice president for diversity and faculty diversity officer, but the school found that the allegations were unsubstantiated.

Ku later claimed that Mitchell “retaliated” against him by trying to move him out of the school faculty, shutting him out of meetings and assigning him undue responsibilities.

Ku filed a lawsuit in which he also listed the university administrators as defendants, along with Mitchell.

The parties reached a settlement and Mitchell resigned from his post in 2014, the US media reports said.

In July 2016, Mitchell announced on his now-defunct personal blog that he had officially changed his name into Ezra Wasserman Mitchell.

Me Too movement

According to the website of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Mitchell’s expertise is in corporate and international finance laws.

The American joined the law school in Shanghai in September 2016 as a full-time teacher and has been teaching Anglo-American Contract Law to undergraduates and Science of Civil Law to postgraduates.

Shanghai Daily reached Mitchell on his WeChat account for his comments. He responded “no” but quickly recalled the message.

The allegations against Mitchell appeared on the Chinese social media following the worldwide “#MeToo” movement that is encouraging people to share stories of sexual assault and harassment to raise public awareness and denounce such behaviors.

In November last year an American teacher at Shanghai American School was sacked for reportedly sexually abusing his students.

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