California college prof. allegedly sexually assaulted student
Colleges are supposed to be safe havens where students are free to explore new ideas and gain valuable experience. They are also where most young adults get their first taste of the working world and their potential contribution to it.
For this and many other reasons, no allegation of sexual harassment or assault on a college campus should be taken lightly, especially when it involves a professor. Sadly, officials at California’s San Jose State University seem to be taking this dismissive approach toward a female student who claims that during a private meeting with her professor to discuss a bad grade, he first engaged in quid pro quo harassment before escalating to sexual assault.
The incident allegedly took place in August of last year. The student came to her professor to ask why her previous semester’s grade had been a D+. Apparently, the professor was under the impression that she had plagiarized her work.
Next, the student claims, “He looked at me and touched me and said, ‘How do you want to better your grade?'” The unwelcomed touching and quid pro quo propositioning continued for several more minutes. When the student tried to leave, the professor allegedly blocked the door and said she couldn’t leave unless he got to grab her butt.
She reported the incident to university police and an investigation was conducted. Despite some pretty convincing evidence, no charges were filed against the professor.
For starters, the young woman received an email from the professor the next day. In it, he wrote: “I’ve been thinking about last night and I have come to the conclusion that I made a terrible mistake in how I handled that situation. I will change your grade to a B- for free, because it is the right way to handle this.”
When interviewed, the professor admitted that he had kissed and sexually touched the young woman, but claimed that the encounter had been consensual.
These two pieces of evidence alone seem to suggest serious misconduct, if not outright sexual assault. However, the university failed to discipline the professor for his actions or even hold a formal disciplinary hearing.
Criminal charges would be appropriate in cases like this, but the pleas of victims sometimes fall on deaf ears. For this and other reasons, sexual harassment and assault victims may wish to hold their abusers accountable in a civil lawsuit.
Source: The Raw Story, “California professor keeps job after admitting to sexually assaulting student,” David Edwards, May 10, 2013