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Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Díaz Cleared Of Sexual Misconduct by M.I.T.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has cleared Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Díaz of misconduct following accusations of sexual harassment from writer Zinzi Clemmons.
Junot Díaz has been cleared of misconduct by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology following accusations of sexual harassment from writer Zinzi Clemmons.
Díaz, the M.I.T. professor who won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, found himself in the middle of a media storm in May after accusations of sexual harassment went viral on Twitter, prompting his employer to launch a private investigation into the charges.
M.I.T. now says that no action will be taken against Díaz after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, according to The New York Times.
“To date, M.I.T. has not found or received information that would lead us to take any action to restrict Professor Díaz in his role as an M.I.T. faculty member, and we expect him to teach next academic year,” the university said in a statement.
The school says that it reached out to former students and colleagues of Díaz looking for information on his behavior.
Díaz is not offering a comment on the school's decision.
Zinzi Clemmons, author What We Lose, accused Díaz of forcibly kissing her when she was younger. She opened up about the experience over Twitter on May 4, the same day she publicly confronted him about his alleged abuse at an Australian writers conference, according to The New York Times.
"As a grad student, I invited Junot Diaz to speak to a workshop on issues of representation in literature. I was an unknown wide-eyed 26 yo, and he used it as an opportunity to corner and forcibly kiss me. I'm far from the only one he's done this 2, I refuse to be silent anymore," she wrote.
Clemmons has not issued a public statement about the M.I.T. investigation yet.
Díaz withdrew from a handful of public appearances following the accusations, while planned events featuring Díaz at The Cambridge Public Library and the Boston Children’s Museum were canceled.
The Pulitzer Prize board has also opened an independent review of the accusations against him, a conclusion to which has not yet been reached. Díaz stepped down from his position as the board's chairman, according to The New York Times.
Díaz will controversially remain as the Boston Review's fiction editor, as announced in a letter on June 5.
"We do not think that any of the individual actions that have been reported are of the kind that requires us to end the editorial relationship. To be clear: we do not condone the objectionable behavior that they describe," reads the Boston Review letter. "Instead, we asked ourselves whether the conduct they report is of a kind that—given his role and our mission—requires us to end the editorial relationship. We do not think so. The objectionable conduct described in the public reports does not have the kind of severity that animated the #MeToo movement."
The accusations against Díaz have divided the literary world, with a handful of prominent writers — including Cheryl Strayed, Carmen Maria Machado, Alexander Chee, Celeste Ng and Jesmyn Ward — speaking out against his alleged abuses.
“Institutions historically are very bad at protecting people,” said Machado of M.I.T.'s decision to The New York Times. “This is why people are scared.”
[Photo: Getty Images]