Stanford biology professor arrested and charged with domestic violence

Oct. 4, 2022, 8:27 p.m.

Stanford biology professor Hunter Fraser was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence in early September in Santa Clara County.

In July, Fraser allegedly threw a woman identified as his girlfriend on the ground and later slammed a door into her while playing a game with her and Fraser’s daughter, court records show.

Fraser, who has worked at Stanford since 2009, pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned on Sept. 2 on charges of inflicting corporal injury, according to the misdemeanor complaint. The charge carries a penalty of up to a year in county jail.

Neither Fraser nor the University responded to The Daily’s request for comment. The Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), which responded to the woman’s call, also did not return a request for comment.

In an email to biology Ph.D. students that acknowledged The Daily’s reporting, department chair Martha Cyert and natural sciences senior associate dean Mary Beth Mudgett wrote that “the University is aware of the incident, but this is an external legal matter that we cannot comment on.”

“Stanford has resources for faculty, students and staff, and we have been meeting with members of our community to provide support as needed,” they added.

Fraser is set to teach two classes during winter quarter, according to ExploreCourses: BIO 4N: “The Science and Ethics of Personalized Genomic Medicine” and BIO 332: “Evolutionary Genomics.” Fraser is also the principal investigator in the Fraser Laboratory, housed under the biology department, which studies the evolution of traits that are not controlled by a single gene.

County District Attorney’s office spokesperson Sean Webby wrote that the decision to charge Fraser with a misdemeanor was made after the office “reviewed the evidence and determined we could prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.” Webby added that the office does not anticipate the charges will be dropped.

Police were called at around 8 a.m. on July 4 to Fraser’s residence near Page Mill Road to respond to a domestic battery, according to the incident report.

According to the report, the woman, who also called police, requested confidentiality. She is unnamed in the misdemeanor complaint. The Daily is aware of the identity of the woman but is withholding it for her safety.

The woman told an officer that Fraser threw her on the ground while she, Fraser and his daughter were playing a game, the report said. According to the report, the woman said that Fraser later slammed the bedroom door against her while she was holding the door as part of the game.

An officer observed a “large swath of redness with the imprint of a door handle on [the woman’s] skin,” according to the report.

The report said Fraser told an officer that he did not know who was behind the door until he opened it and that he did not know how hard he had pushed the door. Fraser was then arrested for domestic violence based on the statements, the stated romantic relationship and the observed injuries, according to the report.

On July 8, the report said, the woman told an officer she had seen a physician for pain in her chest but said the physician did not observe fractures from an x-ray of her ribs. The woman told the officer she may seek further medical evaluation for her pain, according to the report.

Results from a subsequent CT angiogram of her chest provided to The Daily showed that the woman had two broken ribs.

A pre-trial conference will take place Nov. 3 at the Palo Alto Courthouse.

This article has been updated to include an email sent from department leadership to biology Ph.D. students after the article’s initial publication.

Kate Selig is a news managing editor. She previously served as the Vol. 260 editor in chief. Contact her at kselig 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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