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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A UF music professor was fired in January for allegedly forcing a kiss upon a female student during a private lesson, and an arbitrator recently declared the decision to fire him sound after hearing an appeal from the United Faculty of Florida.

The union appealed the dismissal on behalf of Arnold Irchai, a world-renowned bassoonist and associate professor of music, arguing that the university did not follow due process when it considered previous claims against him.

According to arbitrator Leslie Langbein's report, two other similar claims of sexual harassment had been filed against Irchai since he was hired in 2002.

Of the two prior complaints, one was dropped by the student, and the other was investigated but yielded inconclusive evidence.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the reason Irchai was not dismissed for any of those prior incidents is the students did not want to proceed with charges, but "in each case there was a disciplinary process."

Irchai was meeting with the third student for a private lesson last September when he allegedly grabbed her face and kissed her, according to the ruling. The student pushed him away and left his office crying. She told a friend what happened, and they reported it to the undergraduate adviser and music school director John Duff.

Duff was unavailable to comment at press time.

Irchai denied that he kissed or touched the student in their meeting and said that she was simply nervous for an upcoming concert and worried about her performance in class, according to the report.

The incident was reported to and investigated by the Office of Institutional Equality and Diversity, and Irchai was fired Jan. 10.

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