Jose Montoya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who was fired last week over sexual misconduct allegations, attributed his behavior to the difference in "evolving" social norms in the US and the culture of his native Colombia.
Montoya, who began teaching at Stanford in 1990, said that he had treated both men and women in Stanford communities with "respect, professionalism, and the affection proper of my Hispanic heritage," according to a statement his lawyer sent to the Stanford Daily after his May 30 termination.
Stanford's School of Medicine fired Montoya on Monday for "multiple violations" of the university's conduct policies following an investigation into complaints against his conduct, a school spokesperson said in a statement.
The university began investigating after a "large group of women" who worked under Montoya came forward in March with "extensive allegations of sexual misconduct, assault and harassment," the Stanford Daily reported.
In an anonymous statement sent to the student-run newspaper, the group of women wrote that the allegations included "multiple instances of Dr. Montoya attempting unsolicited sexual acts with his female employees, among many other instances of harassment and misconduct."
The group of women included at least one former member of the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Initiative, which Montoya had led.
"Upon receipt of complaints relating to his conduct, we promptly initiated an investigation led by an outside attorney and Stanford faculty member that found multiple violations of the university’s conduct policies," Stanford said in a statement.
In his statement, Montoya wrote, "I sincerely apologize to anyone who, in any way, I offended," while insisting that he had not been involved in any sexual or romantic relationships with his employees, trainees, colleagues, or team members.
"The social norms in the US are evolving and quite different than those from my culture and homeland," he added in the statement. "I did not sufficiently appreciate that difference. It is my responsibility to change and be both mindful and respectful of the boundaries of personal space and I pledge to do just that."
The Stanford spokesperson said that Montoya has the right to appeal the decision.