Ting Guo, a chemistry professor at the University of California, Davis, was fired by the UC Board of Regents Jan. 19 after an investigation into whether he raped a high school student he was mentoring in 2010.
UC Davis released a statement Jan. 12 confirming the investigation. Guo had been on paid leave since January 2021.
Guo was named in a 2020 civil lawsuit by the student, listed as Jane Doe. The suit says that in 2010, the student, who lived in Davis, met Guo after her Advanced Placement chemistry teacher asked the class to shadow a chemist. Guo continued to mentor the student after that initial meeting.
Several months later, the student took gifts to Guo at his Davis home, where he raped her, according to the lawsuit. Guo raped the student two more times in separate incidents, also at his home. In one case he offered to give her $60, the suit says.
“During all three sexual assaults Plaintiff was frozen in fear. She was 18 and he was 46. He was her professor/mentor,” the lawsuit says. In the following years, the student struggled with her mental health as she dealt with the consequences of the rapes, the lawsuit says.
In 2018, the student was encouraged by her therapist to report the attacks, according to the lawsuit. She described the rapes to the police at UC Santa Barbara, where she was enrolled at the time. They forwarded the information to the UC Davis police, who passed it along to the city’s police department because the assaults did not take place on campus.
The city police spoke to Guo, who denied the assaults took place, and the local district attorney declined to prosecute him, the lawsuit says.
At the time, the police shared limited information with the UC Davis Title IX office, which investigates sexual harassment and assault reports, the UC Davis statement says, addressing why it didn’t investigate Guo sooner. The information “was not sufficient to commence an investigation at that time,” the statement says.
In 2020, the student filed the civil lawsuit against Guo and the UC Board of Regents, which oversees the University of California system, claiming that the school failed to investigate the charges and did not fire Guo when the police were first notified. UC Davis defended Guo in the lawsuit, which the court dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out on reporting the assaults. UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell says the university is required by state law to defend its employees.
That lawsuit prompted a UC Davis Title IX investigation into Guo’s conduct. He was suspended in January 2021 and has remained on leave since.
Guo, who studies nanomaterials, came to UC Davis in 1999. He has a bachelor’s degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology and a PhD from Rice University. He is a former chair of the UC Davis Chemistry Department and has received funding from the US National Science Foundation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Guo mentored other high school students as recently as 2019 through the UC Davis Young Scholars Program, which gives high school students the opportunity to do research. UC Davis has removed research summaries of students in Guo’s lab from the program’s website. The student who sued Guo was not part of this program.
The UC Davis statement says Chancellor Gary S. May ordered an independent review of UC Davis’s programs involving youth. The investigation will be overseen by Wendi Delmendo, the university’s chief compliance officer, who supervises the Title IX office.
The university has hired Eve Peek Fichtner, a partner with the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, to conduct the investigation. It has asked Fichtner to review protections for minors in university programs and the sharing of information between UC Davis police and the university’s Title IX office.
In addition, Fichtner will look at “whether anyone in a leadership position in the chemistry department knew or should have known about sexual misconduct concerns related to Ting Guo between 2010 and 2021 and whether those concerns were appropriately reported. If so, whether appropriate action was taken to respond to concerns,” the UC Davis statement says.
This article, including its headline, was updated on Jan. 19, 2023, to note that the University of California, Davis, fired Ting Guo. We also deleted a sentence stating that the UC Board of Regents’ agenda for Jan. 19 included an item on the firing of an unnamed UC Davis faculty member.