Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit is recommending the university place "serious sanctions" on an English professor whom six female students accused of sexual harassment.
In a letter to interim President David Descutner on Thursday, Benoit wrote that Andrew Escobedo's misconduct was "egregious" and could merit loss of tenure and dismissal.
An investigation by the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance found on Dec. 15 that Escobedo sexually harassed four female students. The office found insufficient evidence that the misconduct occurred for two other complaints.
The incidents of sexual harassment occurred as early as 2003, according to a memo from the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance. Escobedo was accused of touching multiple female students sexually and kissing one without consent after buying those students drinks at bars. The students told Title IX investigators that they were afraid denying his advances would affect their grades or reputation.
The office found Escobedo’s actions constituted three types of sexual misconduct: sexual harassment by quid pro quo, sexual harassment by hostile environment and non-consensual sexual contact.
The Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance bases its findings on a “preponderance of evidence standard,” which means the office believes the misconduct more likely than not occurred. That is a lesser standard than the one used in criminal court where a defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some faculty recommended Escobedo undergo an ethics investigation, an option Benoit disagreed with in her letter. Ethics violations can result in a reprimand, censure, temporary reassignment of duties or a fine. Benoit believes Escobedo’s actions were severe enough that the university should consider “a full range of sanctions,” including dismissal.
“I find that Dr. Escobedo’s conduct violates the most basic relationship between faculty and student and erodes the foundation of trust upon which the academy depends,” Benoit wrote in the letter to Descutner.
After Descutner makes his decision, the OU Board of Trustees will vote on the final disciplinary sanctions against Escobedo.
Escobedo is a tenure-track professor who began working for the university in 1998 and makes $87,149 a year. He is on paid administrative leave and not permitted on campus until the disciplinary process ends.
Correction: A previous version of the headline misstated the type of crime Andrew Escobedo was accused of. The headline has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.