A talk at CU Boulder from president of American Atheists David Silverman was canceled after he was fired from the organization due to allegations of sexual and financial abuse.
Silverman, who has served as president of the national organization since 2010, was scheduled to come to the university April 19 as part of a college speaking tour. He was being hosted by the Secular Students and Skeptics Society (SSaSS), a student club at CU. However, American Atheists’ board of directors terminated his presidency last Friday after news of the allegations broke and informed CU that the speaking tour was canceled. Silverman was initially placed on paid leave, but the board ultimately decided to remove him.
“American Atheists is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that is safe and welcoming to all,” the organization said in a statement announcing Silverman’s firing. “Based on the allegations made and the evidence presented, the Board believes it is prudent and necessary to reaffirm that commitment and move forward with new leadership.”
Silverman was accused of sexually assaulting two women involved in the secular movement, as reported by Buzzfeed News earlier this week. At the time of the assaults, the women did not come forward because they were concerned about Silverman using his power within the organization to damage their reputations. However, they spoke about their experiences after other prominent atheist Larry Krauss was accused of sexual harassment in February. Silverman has also been accused of failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest in relation to his recently released book. He denies any wrongdoing.
Shawn Polson, president of SSaSS, said the club was not happy to hear that the event was canceled and to find out that Silverman “might not be that great of a guy.” He said Silverman’s talk was going to be their largest event of the year, and probably the largest event in the club’s 10-year history. Polson said the club will not be able to host a replacement event this semester but hopes to bring other speakers to campus in the future.
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