Incident 8797 - Resolved

Role: Faculty
Position: Professor
Discipline: Physical Sciences and Mathematics
Specific Discipline: Earth, Atmospheric, and Ocean Sciences
Outcome Year: 1998
Outcome Category: Criminal Plea / Conviction; Monetary Settlement / Award; Resigned
Specific Outcome: "It all began Nov. 6, 1998, when the FBI raided the Saybrook Master’s House after two graduate students stumbled upon suspicious images on Lasaga’s Geology Department computer and passed along their findings to the authorities. Lasaga resigned that day for what then-Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead described as “personal reasons.”

The perverse details of Lasaga’s wrongdoing would emerge over the following months. On Lasaga’s computer, investigators found explicit videos the professor had shot of the boy, who was 13 at the time, in the Kline Geology Laboratory and even the Saybrook Master’s House. They also revealed that Lasaga was found to have built a digital collection of some 150,000 pornographic images.

Yet several of Lasaga’s colleagues pleaded in court for leniency in the professor’s case, with one professor from another university asserting that Lasaga was such an eminent scholar with so many research interests that he never could have had enough time to look at so much pornography.

Lasaga, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to both federal and state charges and has been incarcerated since being sentenced in 2002 to 20 years for the sexual-assault charges and a concurrent 15 years for federal pornography charges. The year before, Lasaga was fired by University President Richard Levin, who acted on the recommendation of the University Tribunal, Yale’s highest disciplinary body.

To make matters worse for the former master, a jury ruled in 2004 that Lasaga is liable for $16.5 million in damages to the boy he molested. The University was at first a co-defendant in that suit, but attorneys for the boy withdrew their claim against Yale and said they planned to sue the University separately in the future."
Last updated: Nov 10, 2021 10:29 am