Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide Peter Rathjen engaged in unwanted conduct by touching two female colleagues, the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has found.

“On 11 April 2019 two women (who I will call Ms A and Ms B so as not to identify them), employed by the University of Adelaide attended a function conducted by the University at which the Vice-Chancellor (professor Peter Rathjen) was present,” the report said.
“Later that evening the Vice-Chancellor engaged in conduct that was entirely inappropriate by treating the women with egregious disrespect. It was all the worse having regard to his position within the University and the two womens relative positions in the University.
“I have carried out an investigation into that conduct, the manner in which the University addressed the complaint made about that conduct, and the consequences of that conduct, including a serious claim of victimisation.”
The statement comes at a very bad time for the university which has been savagely hit by the collapse in international revenue and has to lose 400 full time staff positions as it makes good a $225 million revenue short fall.
It also comes less than a month since the new chancellor of Adelaide University Catherine Branson reignited talk of a merger with the University of South Australia, saying there was “possible merit” in a rationalisation of the number of universities in the state.
Mr Lander said he had published the 12-page statement to alert the public about the issues, but also to protect the privacy of the victims.
“This statement is an attempt to balance the privacy of the victims with the public right to know of egregious conduct by a senior person in public administration,” he said.
Professor Rathjen took leave of absence from the university in May this year, and then resigned on July 20.
The ICAC commissioner said in his report he had found that after the function the Vice-Chancellor had ”hugged Ms A and deliberately touched her bottom on two occasions while they were at the second hotel, kissed Ms A on the mouth on two occasions and had ”deliberately placed one hand on Ms Bs waist at the top of her bottom whilst they were at the hotel”.
“I have found contrary to the evidence given by Professor Rathjen that his conduct was sexual in nature and advertised by him to the women as sexual.”
He also said he found the vice-chancellor had lied to the chancellor (then Kevin Scarce) “because he knew, if he told the Chancellor the truth, that he was subject to investigation in relation to a previous claim of sexual misconduct it would jeopardise his tenure at the University of Adelaide”.
Mr Lander said professor Rathjen resigned from his position the day after he had given evidence to the ICAC commissioner.
“Later in his evidence when it became clear to him that information had been provided to me that would establish that answer to be false, he admitted that he had engaged in that conduct.
“He also admitted that he lied to me.
“In that respect I have found that he lied in his evidence.”