A plea of not guilty was entered today at Los Angeles Superior Court for Patrick Harran, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) professor facing felony charges for violations of California occupational health and safety laws that resulted in the death of laboratory assistant Sheri Sangji. The defense objected to Harran being arraigned, but the judge entered the plea and scheduled a preliminary hearing on October 9 to determine whether evidence is sufficient to merit a trial. Harran faces up to 4 1/2 years imprisonment if convicted.
The Regents of the University of California were also charged in connection with the case, but in July they reached a settlement that resulted in the charges being dropped. As part of the settlement, they accepted “responsibility for the conditions” in the laboratory at the time of the fire that caused Sangji’s fatal injuries. The settlement also requires extensive corrective actions by the university.