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Trial date set for McMaster University prof accused of sexual assault

Lisa Polewski / Global News

A 46-year-old professor from McMaster University accused of sexual assault is set to stand trial in the summer, according to the ministry of the attorney general.

Scott Watter, a staffer in the psychology, neuroscience and behaviour (PNB) department, was one of several faculty members disciplined by McMaster in 2020 during a probe into inappropriate behaviours at the school.

Read more: 2 more McMaster staff members accused in sexual violence investigation, says president

Watter appeared virtually in front of a justice on Thursday morning who confirmed Aug. 12 would be the start date for the trial, according to a ministry spokesperson.

The PNB prof was charged by Hamilton police in June 2020 after a woman came forward with accusations of sexual assault and sexual assault causing bodily harm.

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In October, university president David Farrar confirmed more than five other complaints had been filed with the school amid Hamilton police’s investigation into Watter.

A systemic review of the department from Toronto law firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP was launched not long after Watter was charged. The probe, which included faculty, staff, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and some PNB undergraduates and alumni, said the culture in the department “created a degree of complacency that has let inappropriate behaviours go unchecked.”

Read more: Review of McMaster psych department uncovers culture that let ‘inappropriate behaviours’ slide

Six others connected with the PNB department, including faculty members, a former staff member and a former student, were also sanctioned in addition to Watter in the summer and fall of 2020.

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