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McMaster wraps up multiple investigations into sexual violence allegations in psych department

McMaster says it has wrapped up several investigations stemming from allegations of sexual violence related to the university's psychology department.
McMaster says it has wrapped up several investigations stemming from allegations of sexual violence related to the university's psychology department. Lisa Polewski / Global News

McMaster University says it has wrapped up “a number” of investigations into allegations of sexual violence in its Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour (PNB) department.

The school issued a statement on Friday, saying it has contacted the respondents and complainants associated with the “serious” allegations it received last winter, and let them know the findings and outcomes of their investigations.

McMaster announced that it would be investigating the sexual violence allegations after an associate professor from the PNB department was charged with sexual assault and sexual assault causing bodily harm last June.

Read more: Trial date set for McMaster University prof accused of sexual assault

Scott Watter, 46, is accused of sexually assaulting a female student in 2017 and is scheduled to appear in court next summer to face those charges.

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Six others connected with the PNB department were sanctioned by the university in 2020 amid the investigations, which coincided with a systemic review of the PNB department.

That review, which interviewed 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

In the Friday statement, McMaster did not specify how many investigations have been completed, nor did it disclose the results of those investigations.

“In cases where the investigations found that the allegations were not substantiated and no university policies were violated, interim measures are being lifted as appropriate,” said the university.

No names will be released, and McMaster said it’s working to complete the remaining investigations “as quickly as possible.”

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