UW professor fired for sexual misconduct involving student

The University of Washington has fired a professor and former director of its young scholars program, after finding he exploited his position to have “inappropriate sexual contact” with a 17-year-old student.

The university’s investigative office found John D. Sahr started communicating with the student when he was associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs, The Seattle Times reported.

He initiated sexual contact while serving as interim director of the Robinson Center for Young Scholars between 2008 and 2010, investigators found. They also found that Sahr had a relationship with a graduate student that violated policy against conflicts of interest.

Sahr’s termination was finalized and his tenure was revoked, the university announced Thursday. The case involving the former Robinson Center student was sent to prosecutors, who declined to bring charges because it was past the statute of limitations and the former student did not wish to participate, according to King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office records.

“The safety of our community is the UW’s highest priority, and this type of conduct cannot be tolerated,” university spokesperson Victor Balta said in a statement.

Sahr, an electrical engineering professor who started working for the university in 1991, was on home assignment since last year and prohibited from contacting students. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In previous messages to a Seattle Times reporter, Sahr denied that what occurred was sexual harassment, while also referring to himself as a “scumbag.”