California Professor Tells Slate She Was Groped by Dartmouth Professor At Conference 15 Years Ago

  • Psychology professor Todd Heatherton is photographed in a study area at Dartmouth College's Moore Hall on October 7, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to

Published: 11/14/2017 1:58:40 PM
Modified: 11/15/2017 9:46:34 AM

Hanover — A psychology professor in California says Dartmouth psychology professor Todd Heatherton groped her at a conference 15 years ago that she was attending as a 21-year-old graduate student, according to a Slate columnist.

Simine Vazire, a tenured professor at University of California–Davis, told Slate that “Heatherton reached his hand behind her, out of view of the others, and squeezed her butt” while they were part of a group of students and faculty standing outside a banquet hall at the 2002 conference, the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, which was being held in a hotel in Savannah, Ga.

Heatherton is one of three professors in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences who are being investigated by the college and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office following allegations of sexual misconduct.

All three of the tenured professors — Heatherton, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen — are on paid leave and have had their access to campus restricted.

Vazire, a former Slate contributor, told Slate columnist Daniel Engber that she had not been introduced to Heatherton when the incident occurred; a former boyfriend also told Slate she told him of the incident the following year.

Vazire learned from a professional colleague that Dartmouth this fall was investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by faculty. On Oct. 17, she told an external investigator for Dartmouth about the alleged incident with Heatherton, Slate said.

Dartmouth publicly announced the three professors were under investigation the following week.

In an email to Engber, Slate reported, Heatherton wrote, “I do not remember touching her in any way at a conference 15 years ago ... I have just recently heard of this for the first time, but, if I touched her as she described, all I can say is that I am profoundly sorry.”

Heatherton’s attorneys previously have said he is “fully cooperating” with investigators and that the investigations into his conduct had to do with an “out-of-state” incident.

They also have said he “has engaged in no sexual relations with any student.”

Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon last week said the allegations of misconduct do not involve any research work by the three psychology professors.

Reached by email on Tuesday, Heatherton and one of his attorneys told the Valley News that they could not comment on whether the “out-of-state” incident they referenced in their past statements was the same as what Vazire has alleged. They confirmed the authenticity of Heatherton’s comments to Slate.

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