In October 2009 Chinese scientists published a scientific paper regarding the peculiar habits of the short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx. They found that because these particular fruit bats engage in oral sex when mating and copulation time is prolonged.

In November of that year as part of a continuing discussion regarding the viability of scientific claims that support human uniqueness and related evolutionary biology, Dr. Dylan Evans, a psychologist at the University College Cork, Ireland, shared the paper with several colleagues, including a female colleague (Dr. X).

Some time later the colleague filed a sexual harassment complaint against Evans with UCC’s HR department. There were two noted charges; one regarding general sexual harassment by Evans, and one specifically alleging Dr. X’s “harassment, hurt, and disgust” toward him for showing her the scientific paper, in part because she was alone when he did. Evans defended himself indicating that Dr. X was not alone when he shared the paper with her and that he’d shared the paper with many other equally respected colleagues.

In February 11, 2010, a UCC investigating committee found Evans not guilty of tghe charges. However, UCC President Michael Murphy stated that Evans’ actions could be “reasonably regarded as …. offensive, humiliating or intimating” to Dr. X. Consequently, on May 18, 2010, UCC President Michael Murphy imposed sanctions on Evans for a period of two years, during which time his behavior would be intensely monitored and he would be expected to undergo counseling.

Although cleared of the accusations, Evans feared he would ultimately be denied tenure due to the incident and subsequent sanctions. With the support of the Irish Federation of University Teachers and many in the global scientific community, Evans launched a petition to have the sanctions dismissed.

Supporters of Dr. X applaud the UCC’s actions in defence of women in the workplace. Evans’ supporters regard the matter as an issue of free speech that could ultimately stifle scientific research.