Inappropriate Sexual Behavior Allegations Confirmed Against Aubrey de Grey

Gray_Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via GI

Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Weeks after terminating Chief Science Officer Aubrey de Grey over allegations of sexual harassment, SENS Research Foundation released findings of its now-completed internal investigation that confirmed the charges of inappropriate behavior raised by two former female employees. 

In an 18-page executive report, the legal firm of Van Dermyden Makus found that de Grey made unwanted overtures to two women in the anti-aging community, including emails of a sexual nature and promptings to one woman to “use her womanhood” to attract additional funding for SENS from donors. It also found that de Grey attempted to contact the two women who leveled charges at him during the investigation, which was deemed to be an interference in the ongoing investigation. 

The report did not identify the names of the complainants, although their names have been previously reported. One of the complainants is Celine Halioua, founder and chief executive officer of biotech startup Loyal. In a public blog posted online last month, Halioua said that in 2016, when she worked as an intern at SENS, she was “paraded” in front of the foundation’s donors. She claimed that de Grey made inappropriate comments to her, including telling her she was a “glorious woman” who had a “responsibility to have sex” with donors to SENS.

The other complainant is Laura Deming, the founder of the Longevity Fund. She alleged that that de Grey would inform her about his “adventurous love life.”

On his Facebook page, de Grey posted something of an apology to Deming regarding emails he sent, although he said there was no “improper intent.” He also expressed apologies for his own interpretations of an email Deming sent to him that expressed concern about mentors behaving in improper manners. He wrote that he interpreted it as “light-hearted.”

The investigation found that de Grey “purposefully and knowingly disregarded multiple directives” to retain the confidentiality of the inquiry. The findings also showed that during interviews with the investigators, de Grey “not only admitted to this conduct, he made unreasonable efforts to justify it.”

It also criticized de Grey’s repeated posts on social media about the investigation and the charges against him. 

“Dr. de Grey’s unapologetic interference with the investigation by reaching out to a witness through a third party, and repeatedly posting about the investigation has generated angry attacks on the accusers and perpetuated misinformation (i.e., that he has been exonerated)… We find his attempt to influence a party may chill, and likely has chilled, others from coming forward; was an effort to alter and sidetrack the investigation; and, was reasonably threatening to a party,” the probe concluded. 

The report did clear de Grey of allegations that he was instrumental in cutting research funding at Oxford University for one of the complainants following her allegations. 

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