CS lecturer Marty Stepp resigns amid sexual misconduct investigation

Sept. 29, 2019, 10:06 p.m.

A prominent computer science lecturer resigned last week in the final stages of a Title IX investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against him involving multiple students.

The investigation into Marty Stepp’s conduct examines potential violations of University policies relating to sexual harassment, consensual sexual and romantic relationships and/or code of conduct, according to a document from the Title IX Office obtained by The Daily. 

Stepp did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Stepp had been teaching classes at Stanford since 2014, including several entry-level computer science courses like the popular CS 106B: “Programming Abstractions,” which regularly attracts hundreds of students each quarter. During his five years at Stanford, Stepp taught more than 2,000 students. Known for his casual classroom manner, Stepp often friended those students on Facebook and followed them on Instagram. 

The investigation, which began in May, will continue despite his resignation.

Per University policy, teachers and undergraduates may not have sexual or romantic relationships, whether they are regarded as consensual or not, due to the “inherently unequal” position of a teacher and a student. 

While the University declined to comment on the specific Title IX investigation, University spokesperson E.J. Miranda said that allegations of student-teacher sexual or romantic relationships would typically be investigated, and warrant termination if proven. 

A woman familiar with the investigation, who was granted anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said that sexual activity between complainants and Stepp had occurred during closed-door office hours for Stepp’s CS 106B class in fall 2018.

By May 17, the Title IX Office had issued a “no contact instruction” to Stepp, a measure the office uses in certain circumstances to prevent accused parties from interacting with complainants in-person or through telephone calls, email, text messaging, written communication or social media. Stepp was also directed not to come to campus.

As of Sunday night, Stanford’s website still lists Stepp as teaching CS 106X in the winter and CS 108 in the spring. The University has yet to announce who will be taking his place. 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Stepp’s no contact order applied to all students, when the Title IX office defines such directives as applying only to complainants in an investigation. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Charlie Curnin at ccurnin ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Elena Shao '21 is from Suwanee, Georgia. At The Daily, she is a Managing Editor for News. Outside, she's studying political science. She also enjoys learning foreign languages and is hoping to pursue a career as an investigative and data journalist. Contact her at eshao98 'at' stanford.edu.Charlie Curnin '22 is the editor-in-chief of The Stanford Daily. Contact him at eic 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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