Grad students’ lawsuit against Ohio U says it failed to act on complaints of an English professor’s sexual misconduct for a decade, allowing him to continue harassing young women. A former department chair is named as a co-defendant.
By Colleen Flaherty
March 20, 2017
Two graduate students at Ohio University are suing the institution -- including a former department chair -- for allegedly allowing another professor to serially harass female graduate students for over a decade. Although the plaintiffs allege they were harassed and groped at a class party in 2015, a related university investigation found that the professor in question had harassed students going back to 2003.
The case comes at a time when many colleges and universities are rethinking their approaches to enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender discrimination in education -- including timelines for taking disciplinary action against those accused.
Ohio has already moved to fire the tenured full professor and says its processes ensure that all complaints are “investigated thoroughly and handled appropriately.” At the same time, it’s launching what it calls a “comprehensive training strategy to enhance the campus community’s understanding of the shared responsibility to report all forms of sexual misconduct and to work to stop sexual misconduct from occurring.” Training will be mandatory for all faculty and staff members.
The accused harasser, Andrew Escobedo, says he’d like to comment on the allegations but can't, in light of pending litigation. He's previously denied them, however. Escobedo has been on administrative leave since March 2016, awaiting the outcome of a university investigation against him and disciplinary proceedings.
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