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SAN FRANCISCO â The Tor Project, a nonprofit digital privacy group, announced on Wednesday that an internal investigation had confirmed allegations of sexual misconduct against a former employee who was the public face of the organization.
The group, which has risen to prominence at a time of controversy over government surveillance, had been grappling for months with allegations against Jacob Appelbaum, a top figure in the internet privacy debate. Mr. Appelbaum resigned from the Tor Project in May.
The allegations have divided the internet privacy community and have raised questions about management of the project, which promotes the use of software that helps internet users mask their online identities and whereabouts.
One result was the replacement of the groupâs entire board this month.
On Wednesday, the group said that a seven-week investigation into the allegations involving Mr. Appelbaum determined they were accurate. Mr. Appelbaum, who is also the only American member of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, has denied the allegations and has said they are âentirely false.â
Shari Steele, the executive director of the Tor Project, said in a statement that the investigation found that âmany people inside and outside the Tor Project have reported incidents of being humiliated, intimidated, bullied and frightened by Jacob, and several experienced unwanted sexually aggressive behavior from him.â
The investigation was conducted by a private investigator hired by the nonprofit group. Ms. Steele added that new allegations were made over the course of its investigation, and that two members of the larger Tor community had also been involved in the incidents. The two individuals were not named and Ms. Steele said they were no longer part of the Tor community.
Mr. Appelbaum was preparing to address the results of the investigation after the release of Torâs statement, said a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Mr. Appelbaum has been celebrated as an internet privacy hero for his contributions to WikiLeaks and Tor and for his work in releasing several classified N.S.A. documents with Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine. Mr. Appelbaum, who lives in Berlin, was also seen as a close ally of Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor, and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Mr. Appelbaum has accused the United States government of spying on him and his personal companions and of breaking into his Berlin apartment in 2013.
The misconduct allegations against Mr. Appelbaum first surfaced in a number of online postings, the majority of them made anonymously.
In June, two women, Isis Agora Lovecruft and Alison Macrina, stepped forward to say they had written two of the anonymous posts. Nick Farr, another member of the privacy community, also described allegations of censorship and abuse by Mr. Appelbaum in an online post to Medium.
That same month, a dozen women, including human rights activists, journalists and lawyers, posted a statement in support of Mr. Appelbaum online.
Mr. Appelbaum did not participate in the Tor investigation, citing concerns with the way the findings would be communicated and the security of the investigation, according to the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Appelbaum had asked that Torâs investigators speak with him in person or through encrypted means and declined to take part when those requests were not met, this person said.
Ms. Steele said the group âdid everything in our powerâ to treat Mr. Appelbaum fairly, âand we determined that the allegations against him appear to be true.â
The Tor Project brought in Ms. Steele last December partly to help reorganize the group. Apart from dealing with the allegations over Mr. Appelbaum and replacing the board, Ms. Steele has hired new directors of human resources and administration and moved the groupâs base of operations to Seattle from Cambridge, Mass.
In an interview late Tuesday, Ms. Steele said the Tor Project was taking steps to change its culture and behavioral policies. Those policies were set to be released on Wednesday.
âWe want to make it clear to everybody that we wonât tolerate this behavior anymore,â Ms. Steele said. âNow, hopefully, it will be a safe place and people will be able to contribute in ways that they were not before.â