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David Sabatini was (so the story goes) one of the world’s most brilliant cancer researchers and a tenured professor at MIT. He headed up a team of cancer researchers who were working on a breakthrough understanding of the cellular mechanism that triggers cancer in the body. There was talk of a Nobel Prize. Then, he met a woman.
The entrance to the wormhole can be found in Rockville, Maryland, at a hotel that Sabatini was staying at while attending a conference about lysosomes and cancer sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. There, on the night of April 18, 2018, after an evening of whiskey tasting—Sabatini is a whiskey aficionado—he and Kristin Knouse had sex. Knouse was an incoming cancer researcher at the Whitehead, where she would also head her own lab; hers focused on liver regeneration. He was 50. She was 29. He had split with his wife, and was in the process of getting a divorce.
The next month they met up at Knouse’s condo near Boston Common where they discussed a few ground rules for their tryst. They agreed they could see other people. Knouse, Sabatini remembers, had ongoing flings with men who she referred to with nicknames like “anesthesiologist (deleted, rhymes with cuck) buddy,” “finance bro,” and “physics professor,” and she wanted to keep it that way. Also, they wouldn’t tell anyone. Why complicate things at work? It was all supposed to be fun.
So this Sabatini fellow was thinking, “This is awesome. I get to screw a younger chick with no expectations for any kind of commitment. And there’s no way it can ever go wrong because we have a mutual understanding. I love modern sexual mores.”
Some two years later, he lost interest in the relationship at the same time his sex partner decided she wanted him to commit to her. Wow, who could have seen that coming? He broke things off, and she accepted the situation with dignity and took it as a “live and learn” moment. Just kidding, she filed a complaint with the HR department. She would claim that her texts and messages indicating that she was having a good time with the guy were actually symptoms of her abuse and trauma; an explanation so stupid only university officials or lawyers would believe it.
The institute’s administrators immediately hired lawyers to open an investigation.
The law firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder (conducted) an investigation on “gender bias and/or inequities and a retaliatory leadership in the Sabatini lab.” The Whitehead never told Sabatini what he was accused of. Former lab members told me their co-workers were sobbing when they came out of meetings with the lawyers, saying that the lawyers had put words in their mouths. “They had a very strong agenda,” one of them told me.
Sabatini was not the woman’s supervisor, he didn’t even work directly with her. He never threatened her or proposed a quid pro quo. There was no indication that he had violated the institution’s sexual harassment policy. It didn’t matter. A woman had cried.
In the 24 hours after the report came out, Sabatini’s life fell apart. MIT put him on administrative leave. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, another prestigious non-profit that funds biomedical research and was paying Sabatini’s salary, fired him. He resigned from the Whitehead, and eventually MIT, at the advice of his lawyers who thought it would help him secure his next job. (“I one hundred percent regret that,” Sabatini told me).
Soon, the biotech startups he’d helped found— Navitor Pharmaceuticals, KSQ and Raze Therapeutics—started severing their relationships with him. Sabatini was axed from professorships, fellowships, and professional societies. Awards and grants were pulled. His income disappeared.
Wow, quite a price to pay for getting your rocks off, wasn’t it?
Feminist/Sexual Liberation propaganda holds that rules about monogamy, marriage, and fidelity were all made up by ‘the Patriarchy’ to oppress women and alphabet people. Nothing could be further from the truth. These rules about sex and relationships exist because unlimited sexual license is a recipe for disaster. These societal rules exist to protect both sexes from this kind of things.
Somewhere, Mike Pence is smiling.Published in