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Sunday, March 3, 2024

UC Davis professor stripped of titles after sexual assault allegations surface


#MeToo movement inspired administrator to come forward

In December, The Sacramento Bee reported that former UC Davis professor D. Kern Holoman “was stripped of his distinguished professor and emeritus titles […] after allegations surfaced that he assaulted a college freshman 30 years ago.” Holoman was the former director of the UC Davis Symphony and chair of the Department of Music. He retired in 2013.  

On Dec. 12, the former UC Davis student who came forward with these accusations — UC administrator Danny Gray — published a blog post titled “#MeToo Arrives at the University of California” detailing the allegations against Holoman. Gray alleged that Holoman had sexually assaulted him in a hot tub, later raped him and continued making unwelcome advances from 1987 through 1991. Gray claimed that he had reported the incidents to university officials but had no information as to whether any action against Holoman had been taken at the time.

Gray sent a copy of the post to university officials before it was published online. The university agreed to launch an investigation into Holoman’s actions. Holoman denied the allegations and, in lieu of an investigation into the allegations, agreed to have his titles removed.

According to The Bee, in a statement to Gray given by Holoman’s lawyer, Holoman wrote, “I am distressed and deeply apologetic for my role in any event that has harmed Danny Gray in any way, and heartsick at the thought of harm that has festered for 30 years. Our memories of that time differ markedly, but the remorse is very real. I continue to treasure memories of our long friendship and its focus on the beauties of art, literature and history.”

UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May issued a statement on Dec. 11 acknowledging the abusers and survivors on the UC Davis campus as well as including resources available to students, staff and faculty.

“Many of the reports of abuse emerge after years and sometimes decades of silence and shame,” May wrote. “In the past, few if any institutions had adequate reporting and investigative processes, UC Davis included. Our protocols and processes have improved greatly over the years.”

Though the statement did not mention Gray or Holoman by name, UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis confirmed to The Bee that May’s message was a response to Gray’s allegations and that the university expects more people to come forward with allegations.

In his statement, May wrote that he supports “those in our community who have come forward or who are thinking about doing so” and that “the safety and security of our community remains [a] priority for those who study, work and live here.”

Most recently, on Dec. 28, The Bee reported that Holoman’s predecessor, Christian Baldini, the conductor of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra was put “on unpaid administrative leave after a university investigation found he engaged in unwanted sexual conduct toward an undergraduate student.”

Baldini has reportedly also denied the claims and labeled the allegations a misunderstanding.


Written by: Jayashri Padmanabhan — campus@theaggie.org


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