Retired for “health reasons”

One thing I’ll agree with: Karl Kjer was one sick fuck. He was an entomologist at UC Davis who quietly retired “for health reasons” in 2016, and no one bothered to publicly mention what was learned in 2015.

“When I first started working with Kjer, we were going to set up a really nice imaging system for publications or just high-def microphotography [of] specimens we were going to use for his research,” the junior specialist said. “Since we did not get our imaging system first, we decided to kind of prepare for it, and so he [Kjer] asked me to order two hard drives.”

After opening files on just one of the two university-purchased hard drives stored in Kjer’s office over Winter Break, the junior specialist and volunteer found a lot of “terrible images that he recorded of quite a lot of women without them knowing.”

“There was a lot of folders of internet pornography that he downloaded, and we kind of closed the window and looked at each other like, ‘What did we just find?’” the junior specialist said. “At a later point, after we looked through it and made notes [of] when they were taken, when did he last access them — they were spanning at least all the way back from 2010, up to 2012, 2013. A lot of them said that he was still accessing them up to 2015, when I was working.”

In addition to the internet pornography stored on the hard drives, the junior specialist estimates that there were more than 10 videos Kjer had recorded himself, including a video of him installing the camera in the bathroom in his home in New Jersey. It appeared the camera was pointed at the shower and some individuals being filmed were partially clothed while others were nude — “all of them definitely did not know they were being filmed or imaged at the time.”

He had been clandestinely filming students in his bathroom, and filing the videos away in his porn collection on hard drives he purchased with grant money. That’s enough to get one fired, but not enough to bring down public shame on their heads, I guess. Gwen Pearson has some cogent comments on the university’s efforts to dismiss him on the down low.

Pearson discussed what she says is a pattern in the scientific community where a male professional will engage in inappropriate behavior, resign and quickly find another job.

“Right about the time they’re called on it, and proceedings begin, if they resign, it’s over because they’re no longer an employee and the university no longer has any sway over that,” Pearson said. “Very often what happens is […] someone will get in trouble and resign, start over at a new institution and their bad behavior doesn’t necessarily follow them from institution to institution.”

An example of this pattern, which Pearson discussed, is that of the accusations of sexual misconduct as well as research misconduct aimed at University of Kentucky Professor of Entomology James Harwood, who subsequently resigned from his position. The university decided not to pursue an investigation after Harwood’s resignation.

“I’ve seen it happen a couple of times where someone resigns and back channel talk is all — they get caught doing something they shouldn’t have done — and they get a new job,” Pearson said. “It really baffles me why, when there’s such a huge pool of talented scientists, why do we keep rehiring people who we know behave badly?”

I get it. Universities don’t want to have to deal with an ugly mess in their own back yard, so it’s in their interests to quietly shuffle the bad actor away. It’s a strategy for evading responsibility, and that’s how it persists.


  1. lotharloo says

    How is this even legal? Why wouldn’t the university’s action count as “covering up a crime”?

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Failure to report is generally legal. It would be different if a university knew someone was going to report and took steps to prevent that report or prevent any investigation of that report. Then you’re getting closer to obstruction of justice.

    There are exceptions: victims under 18, for instance. The law frequently requires people to report suspected abuse of a minor, though the definition of abuse changes from state to state and not everyone is a required reporter.

    On a separate note: This is EXACTLY analogous to what the Catholic Church did. Calling the university out for repeating the Catholic Church’s mistakes 20 years after the Church got busted is the only way to get across the seriousness of their misconduct.

  3. Usernames! 🦑 says

    I would like to see it where a university (at least a public one) is REQUIRED to note in the person’s record if they resigned while an investigation was ongoing, and the nature of the investigation. Where possible, I would want the universities to complete the investigation as best as possible and retain the evidence.

    I would want to require the university administration to report annually how many of these “aborted investigations” occurred.

    If said investigation concludes with finding of innocence, then it would rightly be expunged from the person’s record.

    Until this loophole is closed, bad actors will keep bouncing. Note this is also how bad cops keep working.

  4. mikehuben says

    Excellent point about the analogy to the Catholic Church, Crip Dyke.

    The interesting difference is that the church is centralized and suited for conspiracy. Universities are decentralized, and rely on adversity to scandal to achieve the same results.

  5. lotharloo says

    I see, so just like the Catholic church. They are sure in good company then!

  6. zetopan says

    “I would like to see it where a university (at least a public one) is REQUIRED to note in the person’s record if they resigned while an investigation was ongoing, and the nature of the investigation. …”

    Upvote += 1,000

  7. lesherb says

    All crimes committed upon school grounds and/or by school employees should be reported. If not, those who know of the crime should be subjected to criminal indictment. All institutions, be they churches, clubs, sports teams, should also be mandated to report. These perverts should not be rewarded with a lateral move to another institution.