This article has been updated to reflect the most recent reporting.

An Ohio University English professor may be fired from his position after several female graduate students accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct.

On Dec. 15, after an investigation that spanned nearly a year, the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance found that Andrew Escobedo sexually harassed female students and engaged in sexual conduct without their consent.

The Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance received several complaints that Escobedo bought female students drinks at bars and then touched them without their consent. The complaints stemmed from incidents as early as 2003.

Six people filed complaints against Escobedo. Four of the complaints were found to be violations of university sexual harassment policy. Of the other two, the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance deemed one unsubstantiated because the person who filed the complaint would not identify herself for fear of retaliation. In the other, a third party who witnessed the incident filed the complaint, and the student involved denied the incident took place.

On March 24, the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance received its first complaint, which centered around Escobedo’s behavior during an end-of-semester party. Two female graduate students said Escobedo touched them inappropriately over the course of the night.

One woman said Escobedo put his hand down her pants to touch her buttocks and rubbed her vagina over her clothing. A witness said the student “seemed petrified” that night. 

The graduate student said she thought telling him no would impact her grade. She said Escobedo kissed her without her consent at the end of the night and rubbed an erection against her leg.

The other woman said Escobedo touched her vagina over her clothes at Jackie O’s. Earlier that night, she had called him an "asshole," and he replied she should "be careful" because grades hadn't been submitted yet, according to the report.

One of the graduate students who reported sexual misconduct told investigators other women had similar experiences to hers with Escobedo but would not come forward.

The Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance makes findings based on a preponderance of evidence standard, meaning its investigations only conclude the violations occurred more likely than not.

The investigation concluded Escobedo made three violations of the university handbook: sexual contact without consent, sexual harassment by hostile environment and sexual harassment by quid pro quo. In an incident of sexual harassment by quid pro quo, victims are made to believe submission to sexual harassment is a condition of their employment or will affect hiring or academic decisions.

Escobedo is on paid administrative leave and is banned from campus. He is a tenure-track professor who has worked for the university since 1998, and he makes $87,149 a year.

While on leave, he was promoted to professor, according to an online post from the College of Arts and Sciences.

In a letter to OU Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robert Frank recommended Escobedo’s appointment be terminated.

“A serious breach of student trust has occurred, and it is difficult to imagine how we will be able to confidently assure our students that they can be free of concerns about sexual harassment with Prof. Escobedo on our faculty,” he wrote in the letter.

Frank solicited recommendations from English faculty to help him make a decision.

After Benoit makes her own recommendation to the university president, the OU Board of Trustees will vote on a final decision.

Escobedo told Title IX investigators the accusations stemmed from a “social justice” crusade against him and his wife, Beth Quitslund, an associate professor in the English department. He told investigators he had received two articles in his mailbox about professors losing their jobs over sexual harassment allegations and that someone had placed a necklace with the word “bitch” on the door handle of his office.

Escobedo reported multiple incidents involving graffiti in an Ellis Hall women’s bathroom to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance. On March 10, he reported graffiti that read “(Escobedo) is a predator” and “(Escobedo) preys on young women. The department knows.”

In a Jan. 31 letter to English department faculty, Escobedo said he did not claim the students consented to his advances and said he should not have become so intoxicated in the presence of students. He denied abusing his power over the students and asked faculty to recommend disciplinary measures short of termination.

“I should not have become so intoxicated while socializing with graduate students, and I should not have stayed out so late with them,” he wrote.

Escobedo declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.

@baileygallion

bg272614@ohio.edu

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