Metro, University News

Faculty appointment under review after arrest in prostitution sting

Stephon Alexander PhD’00 arrested for procurement of sexual conduct for a fee Thursday

News Editor
Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Visiting Scholar in Physics Stephon Alexander’s PhD’00 appointment to the faculty is under review following his arrest in a prostitution sting Thursday night. Alexander was charged with procurement of sexual conduct for a fee.

Alexander, along with six other men, visited a hotel along the Coventry-West Greenwich train line in response to an advertisement soliciting money for sex on the website, the Providence Journal reported. The ad was posted by Coventry and West Greenwich police detectives as part of the undercover “Operation Front Page,” one of a series of operations meant to crack down on prostitution in the state, the Journal reported.

As a “non-instructional and unpaid” visiting scholar at the University this fall, Alexander would not have been considered a Brown employee until he began his faculty position in January, according to a University statement.

The University’s review of Alexander’s appointment will center on how the incident relates to its policies and core values, according to the statement.

Alexander received his doctoral degree in physics from Brown and has held faculty positions at Pennsylvania State University and Haverford College, according to Dartmouth’s website. His work has been featured by National Geographic and PBS.

In the fall, Alexander was on paid administrative leave from Dartmouth, where he has served as the Ernest Everett Just 1907 Associate Professor of Natural Sciences since 2012, specializing in theoretical physics, wrote Justin Anderson, Dartmouth’s Vice President of Communications in an email to The Herald.

Alexander was also the director of Dartmouth’s E.E. Just STEM Scholars Program, which offers mentoring and support to students of color studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to Dartmouth’s website. He has written about his experiences as an African-American physicist and racial biases that occur in his field of study in publications such as The New York Times.

Alexander’s hiring comes amidst heightened administrative efforts to bolster the faculty’s diversity, especially in departments related to science, technology, engineering and math.

In its statement, the University clarified that “the review does not constitute any adverse determination about the incident, and it would be premature to speak to any potential outcomes.”

Both Dean of the Faculty Kevin McLaughlin P’12 and Department Chair and Professor of Physics James Valles declined to comment for this story.

— With additional reporting by Kate Talerico.


Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Haverford College as Haverford University. The Herald regrets the error. 



  1. Ron Ruggieri says:

    I hope this deplorable Providence Police prostitution sting operation does not add another negative experience to Dr. Stephon Alexander’s career as an African-American physicist:
    ” When I nervously walked into the office of Robert Brandenberger, a white cosmologist, to ask him if he would take me on as his doctoral student, I saw many intimidating physics books, but tucked among them was “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” Robert accepted me as a student and devoted himself to developing me into a physicist of whom he could be proud. ” [ words of Stephon Alexander ]

  2. Dang laBarry says:

    This sting operation is deplorable. Hiring Alexander will remain consistent with values of Brown University regardless. We like racial diversity, especially in STEM. We like perverts. We like people who take foolish risks. And lastly, we aid and abet illegal behavior. Well done, Brunonia!

  3. The police say they are doing this to combat sex trafficking. But is it effective?

    Lets look at analogous policy around the war on drugs. How does picking up someone for buying a small amount of Marijuana do anything about the drug distribution networks? Our prisons are full of low level drug offenders. Meanwhile the drug gangs and cartels are still making mountains of money and drug use has not been abated.

    Just like any job, there are risks of harm and exploitation, which is why we have laws to protect the workers – provided they feel free to seek help. That’s definitely not the case here with sex work. Police and US laws are capricious – sometimes they go after the Johns but more often they go after the women (and some men).

    We should all agree that sex trafficking is wrong, but that’s different from two adults who willingly engage in sex for money under their own free will. This was precisely the point behind the Canadian Supreme court ruling that decriminalized sex work. The court reasoned that criminalization also increases the exploitation and risks to the workers.

    If the police were really serious about helping victims of sex trafficking, their focus would be on finding and helping those victims. Even if they are somewhat successful with their recent approach (unlkely), sex traffickers will just move their victims to another location.

    • Ron Ruggieri says:

      [ NEW ZEALAND – A campaign against loan sharks operating in
      low-income communities was launched at a meeting last night. “One person
      in particular, who works with young people on the street, talked about
      how many of them are selling their bodies into prostitution because of
      addictions to gambling, or to pay off borrowed money,”…]
      Oh -so-respectable TV and radio news celebrities pimp the state lottery every hour of the day, then report these stories of prostitution busts with a moralizing smirk on their cosmetic perfected faces.
      Asked ” What makes a great scientist ? ” on NOVA TV physicist, Stephon Alexander said: ” Thinking the Unthinkable “.
      Decriminalizing prostitution in Rhode Island should not be so ” unthinkable “. We do need a ” sense of sin ” in thinking about human depravity. But we do not need a fascist police state to regulate personal morals.
      Why not put the innocent victims of the reckless U.S. ” war on terrorism ” on the Providence Journal’s ” Operation Front Page ” ? [ ]

  4. ShadrachSmith says:

    Banging on a SJW for banging on hookers? No, we bang on Republicans for banging on hookers.

    This is simple stuff. Do it better next time.

  5. I hope he is not “under review.” I hope he will no longer be considered for any

  6. Some Alumni says:

    Back in ’87 Glenn Loury was charged with assaulting a 23-year-old woman who was not his wife. Later on he got caught with cocaine and marijuana. Brown hired him just the same.

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