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A Look Back at People and Events in the News : Radical Professor Departs With a $40,000 Settlement

September 14, 1986

El Camino College's radical sociology professor Robert A. Lee is no longer available to be kicked around by the South Bay folks who objected to his 1960s style of teaching and living.

Lee, who once said he liked to "jostle people just to see what makes them scream," has accepted a payment of $40,000 in return for his agreement to depart from the El Camino campus and never return.

As part of the settlement with El Camino, the college administration agreed to seal Lee's personnel file and not say anything bad about him if a prospective employer should call, a college official said.

In his 16 years at El Camino, Lee stirred controversies by advocating free love and the use of drugs "to make you feel good all the time," and by shouting obscenities in class to "dislodge the repressed feelings" of his students.

College officials, who used to cringe when Lee's name was mentioned, indicated that Lee went one step too far when he went on a television talk show to promote incest as a means of bringing families closer together, and when, they said, he made off with some books belonging to his colleagues.

Lee said he was just trying to get people to think. As for the books, he said he sold them for postage--to mail a dissertation on incest--and later repaid the money. He was suspended without pay last January while the college pressed charges of "immoral conduct and evident unfitness to teach."

Lee, 43, a former Hermosa Beach resident who now lodges with a girlfriend in Pomona, termed the settlement "very nice . . . very generous. It will enable me to take off a year to consider what I will do next."

In a telephone interview last week, Lee was vague on his plans, but in the past he has mentioned bartending, teaching high school students or publishing a paper on "quantum motion"--a theory of his that he said challenges the notions of Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.

"Everything hasn't turned out the way I wanted," he said. "But I have maintained my integrity."

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