The Guttmacher Institute has a longstanding commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for all. But within our own organization, we are confronting the reality that we have failed to protect our staff as we work toward that guiding principle. For that, we apologize. Through an internal investigation with guidance from our legal counsel, it has become clear that a member of our senior staff, Dr. Lawrence B. Finer, has engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior against a number of current and former Institute employees. We have put an end to this unacceptable behavior and are taking concrete steps to prevent it from happening again.
On June 15, we received an anonymous report of sexual harassment against Dr. Finer via a member of our Board of Directors. Dr. Finer was immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a comprehensive investigation. Based on what the investigation has uncovered, we terminated his employment on June 22. There were rumors of inappropriate conduct, and a formal, separate complaint was made against this individual earlier this year. While we believed at the time that we had resolved the complaint adequately, we now know that the actions we took were not nearly enough to address the problem.
This investigation and resultant termination are only the very beginning of what needs to happen. Having policies and procedures in place to prevent and address sexual harassment and misconduct has clearly proven to be insufficient. We have failed to create and nurture a culture within our organization where predatory behavior is condemned and where staff feel supported to report such behavior as soon as it occurs. That is inexcusable.
As part of our commitment to the safety and well-being of our staff, and to addressing our failure to live up to our institutional values, we will conduct an independent and thorough review of our practices and policies. We will hold ourselves—and expect others to hold us—accountable to do so in this situation as well.
To those who have come forward to recount their experiences, we thank you, we hear you, we believe you, and we apologize deeply for letting you down. We urge anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct by any current or former Institute staff member to contact us; any information provided will be handled with absolute respect and confidentiality.
Our goal is to do right by the victims of this behavior and to restore the trust of our staff, our donors, our colleagues and all those who rely on Guttmacher’s work.