Rajendra Pachauri, the U.N. climate panel’s former chairman, has been charged with stalking and sexually harassing a woman who worked at the New Delhi environmental think tank he’s headed for more than three decades. Police filed the case in a Delhi court after investigating a complaint by one of Pachauri’s colleagues at The Energy Research Institute, Press Trust of India said.
Police have charged Pachauri, 75, with sexual harassment, stalking and criminal intimidation of the 29-year old woman. Pachauri had headed the four-decade-old think-tank for the last 34 years, when it emerged as a global center for research in efficient utilization of energy and sustainable use of natural resources. It has affiliate institutes in London and Washington.
Pachauri chaired the climate panel — considered the world’s authority on climate science — since 2002, and had accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on its behalf. The panel shared the award with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Pachauri has denied the allegations, but had resigned last year from both the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and from TERI after the researcher’s allegations were published in Indian newspapers. The allegations caused a public uproar in a country where women face a stigma against discussing issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace.
His appointment last month to another top post at TERI renewed outrage, and a second woman, who had worked there for a year, came forward with additional allegations. The court scheduled an initial hearing on April 23.
Separate from the police investigation, TERI’s internal complaints committee examined the evidence presented by the researcher, and questioned nearly 50 other employees, and concluded that the allegations of sexual harassment leveled by the researcher were valid.
In his resignation letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Pachauri said he’d planned to step down on Nov. 2 last year after the release of the final portion of the panel’s fifth climate report, but “close friends and colleagues advised me against that action and to continue with outreach efforts worldwide.”
Pachauri also had colleagues on the panel who had, privately, been eager for new leadership for years. One reason was his habit of mixing personal advocacy with the authority granted by his position.