Oxford University placed a prominent Islamic scholar on leave Tuesday after multiple women accused him of sexual assault and rape.
The university released a statement Tuesday explaining that Tariq Ramadan, a major research fellow at St. Anthony's college and professor of Islamic Studies, would take a mutually agreed upon leave of absence effective immediately to allow Ramadan to address the allegations against him, according to the Guardian.
Three women levied allegations in recent months of separate instances of sexual assault and in some cases rape, two of whom claim that Ramadan forced himself upon them in hotels in France while the third claims that he blackmailed her with compromising photos into performing sexual favors.
Since then, more women have come forward to accuse Ramadan, with four of his former pupils accusing him of sexually harassing and having sex with them as teenagers in the 1980s and 1990s. The 55-year-old Swiss national denied the claims and said he will sue for libel but praised Oxford's approach to the situation.
"An agreed leave of absence implies no presumption or acceptance of guilt and allows Prof Ramadan to address the extremely serious allegations made against him, all of which he categorically denies, while meeting our principal concern – addressing heightened and understandable distress, and putting first the wellbeing of our students and staff," the university's statement reads.
Ramadan welcomed the leave of absence and said that he appreciated Oxford's commitment to the principle of presumption of innocence until guilt is proven.
"I salute the position taken by Oxford University since this matter first arose. The university has defended the principle of presumption of innocence without minimising the gravity of the allegations against me," Ramadan wrote, according to The Guardian.
Ramadan called out French press for alleged false reporting on the situation and explained that, in accordance with Oxford's statement, he would take the mutually agreed upon leave of absence "which will permit me to devote my energies to my defence while respecting students' need for a calm academic environment."
Ramadan has authored several books on modern Islam and Muslims' interactions with European culture and has counseled successive British administrations regarding Islam.