Devastating report: how archaeologist couple got away with misconduct, intimidation, alcohol abuse and theft
On Monday, the university published a damning report on the decades-long reign of terror by Caribbean archaeology professor Corinne Hofman and her partner and researcher Menno Hoogland.
Sebastiaan van Loosbroek
Tuesday 14 May 2024
Corinne Hofman's portrait is hung in the Senate Room of the Academy Building, March 2018. Photo Marc de Haan

This article has been updated with additional information on Thursday, May 16

 The 54-page anonymised report extensively details the duo’s misconduct. The independent investigating committee, led by Leiden associate professor of dismissal law Yvonne Erkens, describes a decades-long culture of fear in which Hofman and Hoogland exhibited transgressive behaviour, violated scientific integrity, abused their power and possibly committed criminal offences.

The committee based the report on statements by a total of 37 informants, including nineteen notifiers, eleven peers and three (former) administrators.
In late April, Leiden University itself broke the news that ‘a professor and their partner’ had engaged in years of intimidation, discrimination, manipulation, and shouting, laughing at and mocking staff, PhD candidates and students, among other things. Board president Annetje Ottow told Mare that the misconduct took place between 1990 and 2023 and that there were 19 notifiers, both current and former staff and current and former students.
Ottow did not want to disclose the names of the accused persons, but she did say that the professor has been suspended and the university has initiated a dismissal procedure. She also said that the two will never be welcome at the university again. On 30 April, NRC revealed that the accused persons are acclaimed archaeologist Corinne Hofman and her partner.

Hofman was appointed professor in Leiden in 2007, served as dean of the faculty from 2013 to 2018 and was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands, in 2014.


The report, which reads like a fever dream because of the many allegations and wild west dramatics, reveals the extent of Hofman and Hoogland’s misconduct, both at the faculty and during fieldwork trips and academic gatherings.
For instance, the committee notes that toilet visits during fieldwork were ‘strictly regulated’ and that students and staff were ‘exposed to danger’ as one of the accused engaged in ‘dangerous driving, including under the influence of alcohol’.

Students and staff were ‘exposed to dangerous driving, including under the influence of alcohol’

Another notable incident is that Hofman instructed some staff members to calm down Hoogland ‘in a drunken and unmanageable state and bring him safely back to the fieldwork accommodation’. Moreover, Hofman and Hoogland regularly had ‘escalating, almost physical conflicts’, ‘including verbal abuse and some physical confrontation’.
During fieldwork expeditions there was ‘inadequate attention to the protection of young women against harassment’ and staff and students were pressured ‘to drink alcohol and participate in local nightlife’.
Furthermore, fieldwork participants were provided with insufficient food, insufficient clean water and poor sleeping arrangements.


The couple are also suspected to have violated scientific integrity, the investigating committee states. The most striking incident is said to have taken place during a fieldwork expedition in 2009. The couple wanted to take samples of human dental remains from a local depot at the time, but the local authority repeatedly refused to grant permission to do so.
In order to obtain these samples anyway, Hofman distracted the ‘local authority’ by engaging in conversation with that person, while Hoogland sneaked into the depot along with two PhD candidates. There, Hoogland instructed the PhD candidates to remove the dental remains. When they refused to do so ‘on the grounds of ethical objections related to the absence of a permit’, he did so himself ‘using tongs, a hammer and a screwdriver, in a violent manner and disregarding generally accepted ethical and technical rules in the field of archaeology’, states the report. ‘This was illegal and amounted to theft.’
The couple also allegedly enjoined the PhD candidates to keep silent in a threatening manner, which they ‘experienced as intimidating’.

A notifier was instructed to pull human teeth ‘from the skull with pliers or a multi-tool’

A similar incident reportedly occurred in 2006. A notifier was instructed to pull human teeth ‘from the skull with pliers or a multi-tool’ and take them from a depot. Again, no permission had been granted. The notifier calls this ‘shocking’ as the two ‘evidently saw no ethical objections’.
In addition to such wild west dramatics, the committee also believes it is plausible that Hofman and Hoogland insisted that PhD candidates and postdocs included them as co-authors ‘of publications to which they had not made any substantial contribution or that the staff member in question wanted to publish independently’. They also tried to claim ‘a higher position in the sequence of authors’ for publications ‘to which they did contribute’. One notifier states that Hofman used her own work for two different publications.

The behaviour of the two has caused great harm to the victims, both at work and in their personal lives. They feel ‘sadness, regret, shame, frustration, vulnerability and distrust’. Some of them describe the impact as ‘traumatic’ to this day; nine informants say they have suffered burnout. Some also state that it has affected their careers and self-confidence or that they could have achieved more in a ‘healthy working environment’.One notifier says they have suffered material damage. 


Photo Marc de Haan

According to the notifiers, there are many more employees who were victims of the couple’s transgressive behaviour, but they were afraid to report it ‘out of fear of retaliation’, given Hofman's extensive influence in her field and their ‘international network’. Those who did sound the alarm say they did so out of their ‘desire for injustice and personal suffering to be recognised’ and ‘to help prevent the behaviour of the two from continuing with new victims’. They also had the impression that the university is more willing to address problem signs now than before.


The committee asked the couple to respond and said they ‘do not recognise themselves’ in the allegations, which they therefore ‘strongly reject’. They either deny the alleged undesirable behaviour, have no recollection of the events or feel that the examples have been distorted. They feel ‘shock, astonishment, sadness and pain’ at the image portrayed. ‘It affects them deeply.’
The duo believes the notifiers are jealous and frustrated and that Hofman has been scapegoated. Hofman also thinks the fact that she is a woman and an academic can ‘arouse fear, jealousy and obstruction’ in others. This is a notable defense, since the couple disadvantaged some women who were pregnant by excluding them, or naming that pregnancy was an impediment to work.

Former rector Stolker ‘cannot recall that the reports were discussed at that meeting’

Hoogland says he has a ‘medical explanation’ for ‘certain aspects of his behaviour’. He has had a chronic illness since 2010 for which he was taking medication, and according to his treating physician, his behaviours are ‘typical side effects of the medication’.

Hofman and Hoogland provided the committee with counter-statements by 59 individuals, who ‘paint a very positive image of their work and behaviour’. However, the committee concludes that 57 of these statements ‘have little or no relevance’.

Naked swimming

One of the statements that was relevant was made by their son ‘who has often accompanied them’ on fieldwork campaigns and has read all of the notifiers’ statements. He does not recognise his parents in the image painted and disputes the events. In fact, he argues that it was the notifiers who behaved in a transgressive manner, ‘varying from wearing provocative clothing where this was disrespectful to local culture to forcing others to take part in naked swimming and exposing one’s genitalia as a prank’.

The committee notes that his views ‘differ significantly from the thrust of the notifier statements’.

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What did former rector Carel Stolker know?

As early as the beginning of the reign of terror, in 1995 and 1999, the first complaints were allegedly reported to the then head of the department. This person declared to the committee 'to have no recollection' of this.

A salient detail is that the current dean of the Faculty of Archaeology, Jan Kolen, has stated that he received reports about the couple as early as 2018 and discussed this with the then Rector Magnificus on 3 April 2019.

That position was held by Carel Stolker at the time. He ‘cannot recall that the reports were discussed at that meeting’ and pointed out that ‘during his term as Rector-President, he often received reports from people who wanted to draw his attention to all kinds of matters’. There is no record of the conversation.

The question of what Stolker did or did not know still has administrative implications. Because when asked if chair of the board Annetje Ottow ever discussed the issue with her predecessor, she replied Tuesday in NRC, “I did say to him at one point, ‘I think it's very unfortunate that so many issues are now coming to the surface and so now we all have to solve this problem together.’”

When asked how Stolker responded, Otto replied, “That stays between us. And it's about what this board is doing now. Stolker disputes that reading. 'We did not discuss anything,' he wrote Tuesday on X. 'So there is also nothing that has to remain “between the two of us.”'

The former rector announced he would clarify his story further to the university council. 'Because it has become an administrative integrity matter, I will send a letter to the university council with my observations. It belongs in the council.'

The investigators repeatedly stress that Hofman and Hoogland are ‘responsible for their own behaviour’, but that the behaviour was ‘to a significant degree made possible by the environment’. They call the ‘culture in the faculty unhealthy’ and argue that ‘glorification of the individual’ is a threat when it comes to acquiring research funding. The faculty also needs professional help to process the events before looking to the future.

In an interview in NRC on Tuesday, Board president Annetje Ottow said the Faculty Board ‘will do what is necessary’ and that an external agency is currently being selected to draw up a plan of action.

She also said she is disregarding the committee’s recommendation for the ‘healing for all those involved, including the two staff members in question’ and will proceed with Hofman’s dismissal procedure. ‘Simply too much has happened.’


Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland feel that the disclosure of the investigation report is ‘premature and unjustified’.
They communicate this through their lawyer in a statement to Mare. Because our names have already been revealed through the media, we consider the actions of the Executive Board to be unlawful and a violation of our privacy. A fine-tooth comb has been run through over 30 years of our working lives, from our very first steps in the academic world.’
It has ‘never been our intention to cross any boundaries’ but we ‘deeply regret’ that ‘in light of shifts in societal perspective, this has nevertheless been experienced as such’, the couple states.
The investigating committee writes in the report that it is ‘questionable whether sanctions contribute to the healing of the Faculty of Archaeology as a community’. Nevertheless, the Board has initiated a dismissal procedure. ‘The Board has disregarded this advice, which is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the times, without justification, and opted for a personal attack and taking the matter to court.’

How can someone run wild for thirty years?

The names of archaeologist couple Hofman and Hoogland were not mentioned during the Council meeting on Monday.

‘The university doesn’t really know what it is doing when it comes to addressing social unsafety’, said Ella Picavet of student party DSP when a policy memo from the Board on the subject was discussed. ‘It’s strange and ridiculous that there is no explanation anywhere as to what definitions they use for social safety. ‘The terms “undesirable”, “inappropriate” and “transgressive behaviour” are used interchangeably.’ ‘There is very little reflection within the organisation on existing policy. That’s a shame, especially in light of the issues in recent years; issues that persist to this day’, said Rebekah van Beek of student party PBMS.

Picavet: ‘The document is mostly “glossing over the issues”. It’s not a fair reflection of everything that’s going wrong.’

The Council is eager to discuss the archaeology report with the Board, as it contains findings that are relevant to the entire faculty. However, that is not allowed because it concerns a specific case, an official informed during a Council committee meeting.

‘I find that rather contradictory’, said Max van Haastrecht of staff party PhDoc. We could simply focus on the sector. I don’t necessarily need to delve deeply into that specific case. It’s about the findings in a broader sense.’

Picavet: ‘We also want the Board to reflect on the matter with us.’ ‘Theory and practice are very far apart’, Patrick Klaassen of staff party UB added. ‘We have a theoretical model to address social unsafety, but in practice, it’s possible for someone to ruin the atmosphere for over 30 years. More action is needed.’

Mark Dechesne of staff party LAG wants to know from the Board why action was not taken sooner. ‘The most recent Personnel Monitor in 2022 showed that especially at Archaeology, many employees experienced a feeling of unsafety. I also asked what was going on at the time, but there was little reflection.’

It is problematic that those who are supposed to implement changes in a faculty may be suspect themselves, Van Haastrecht noted. ‘That was true in this case.’ For example, Hofman was a dean for some time. ‘How do we deal with this properly? Are our processes concerning social safety in order? We want to discuss this with the Board.’ On May 27, the Council will, at the very least, discuss the update on social safety with the Board. VB