Dr. Jose Montoya has been fired from Stanford University after an investigation into alleged violations of Stanford’s rules of conduct, including sexual harassment, misconduct and assault. The Stanford Daily published an anonymous statement from a group of people affected by Dr. Montoya’s actions:
This past March, a large group of women who have worked under Dr. Montoya came forward with extensive allegations of sexual misconduct, assault and harassment,” they wrote. “The allegations included multiple instances of Dr. Montoya attempting unsolicited sexual acts with his female employees, among many other instances of harassment and misconduct, and were confirmed in an investigation.
I have seen a lot of hot takes about this on Twitter in the last 24 hours, but I’m going to make it very very simple:
This is not about us.
Dr. Montoya’s patients are obviously affected by this, as is his research to some extent. But it is not about us. Neither his patients, nor his colleagues, nor his research subjects are the primary victims here.
This is about the women who reported the allegations, and Dr. Montoya himself.
Stanford conducted an investigation over several months and concluded there was cause to dismiss Dr. Montoya. Remember, though, Stanford’s primary interest is protecting itself from lawsuits–either from the women who made the allegations or from Dr. Montoya. A university investigation is not a court of law, but it’s also not a joke.
Dr. Montoya can appeal Stanford’s decision, and potentially sue Stanford as well. The women who made the allegations can also sue Stanford and/or Dr. Montoya himself. These cases take a long time, but we may eventually learn more details about these incidents. Right now, we have very few facts and speculation is not helpful.
But I’ll make it simple: THIS IS NOT ABOUT US.
This is about the women who made the report. That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s even harder to be the target of harassment and assault. We cannot minimize that harm. If the report is true, then multiple women have been hurt professionally, emotionally, and perhaps physically. And if the report is untrue, then Dr. Montoya has been harmed.
So all the hot takes I saw yesterday? Sit down. This is not about prejudice against ME research or patients. It’s not about finding a way for Dr. Montoya to stay involved in ME research. It’s not about whether we will ever know what really happened.
This is not about us.
If the allegations are true, then I don’t want Dr. Montoya anywhere near ME research and people with ME. I know how hard it is to make a report of sexual harassment. Stanford’s finding of sufficient cause to dismiss, while not definitive proof, is strongly suggestive that the allegations are true. We’ll know more if/when more details become public.
Until then, the most important thing is preventing further harm. No employee, student, or patient at Stanford should be put at risk.