Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin returned to the classroom Jan. 5 after an investigation cleared him of anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct.
Levin had been on a leave of absence from teaching while the school investigated the allegations posted on an anonymous blog purportedly written by a former student from more than 20 years ago. President Rick Commons first informed the community of the investigation in an email Dec. 3, and then of its conclusion in a second email Dec. 18.
Commons said that the blog was an updated version of an earlier blog post from 2012, when the school first conducted an investigation into the allegations and found no evidence of any misconduct on Levin’s part. The school notified the Los Angeles Police Department both times, but they declined to reopen the investigation after concluding in 2012 that the claims were unsubstantiated, Commons said.
In his Dec. 3 email sent to the faculty, students, alumni and parents, Commons said that because an updated blog was being circulated, he was looking into the matter again.
“The nature of the questions being asked required, we felt, a) that we respond, and b) that we, out of an abundance of caution, take up the matter anew and investigate it to make sure that we are putting students’ safety at the very forefront,” he said in an interview with the Chronicle.
Though Commons said they had enough evidence to suspect who wrote the blog, they were uncertain as to who the author was and had been unable to contact him either directly or through family members.
“I wouldn’t even want to speculate” as to who wrote the blog, Levin said.
While on leave, Levin worked remotely to continue in his duties as chief financial officer. During this period, attorney and law school professor Mary Beth Kors (Annie ’14) taught his class, The Business of Life.
“I’m so happy Mr. Levin’s back because he really makes the class what it is,” Sunaina Goel ’15 said. “Definitely, my parents weren’t concerned at all about the email [from Commons]. If anything, they were concerned for Mr. Levin. It’s his personal business.”
Digital consultant Janine Warner said that anonymous online accusations are often difficult to fight.
“There’s a bigger picture, so unless they’re really causing you harm you’ll probably make it worse by bringing a lawsuit,” Warner said. “First of all it’s very expensive, and second of all, you can spread rumors further, even when they’re not true. “
Levin said that he did not seek outside assistance because he was confident in the administration’s ability to appropriately handle the situation.
“I’m delighted to be back,” Levin told the Chronicle. “I got lots of supportive notes from alums. Coming back you realize what an amazing place this is and what an amazing group of people are here, whether they’re colleagues or the kids in class.”
Commons said he was glad the investigation had concluded in Levin’s favor.
“I’m thrilled to have Mr. Levin back,” Commons said. “He is an inspiring teacher and an immensely capable Chief Financial Officer as well as a good friend. It’s good to have him here.”