Ohio University English Professor Andrew Escobedo has requested a hearing before a faculty committee to respond to the sexual harassment allegations against him.
Escobedo, who is facing de-tenuring and dismissal, requested the hearing in an email to interim President David Descutner at 11 a.m. Monday. After Descutner’s March 2 letter informing Escobedo he had initiated the dismissal proceedings, Escobedo had 30 days to request the hearing. Monday was the 30th day.
Escobedo’s request is one of the final stages of a process that began more than a year ago. On March 24, 2016, two female graduate students filed a complaint with the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance stating Escobedo had sexually harassed them and touched them sexually without consent. Four more complaints followed. Investigators from the office found enough evidence that Escobedo violated university policy in four of the six cases.
According to the memorandum of findings the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance released Dec. 15 at the end of its months-long investigation, Escobedo bought female students drinks at bars and then touched them inappropriately. One woman told investigators Escobedo put his hands down her pants to touch her buttocks at an end-of-year event at Jackie O’s, and forced a kiss on her at the end of the night. Another woman said he rubbed her vagina over her clothes that same night.
The earliest incident reportedly took place in 2003. Several of the women told investigators they thought denying his advances would harm their grades or reputations.
According to the faculty handbook, Escobedo will be allowed 60 days to prepare his case before the hearing. That means the hearing may not take place until June.
The faculty committee will include all faculty senators in the third year of their terms. According to the faculty handbook, the faculty senate chair heads committees that hear cases involving dismissal of tenured professors. Joe McLaughlin, the current chair of faculty senate, has been implicated in a civil rights complaint two female graduate students filed against Escobedo and the university.
Christine Adams and Susanna Hempstead argue in their complaint that McLaughlin failed to report a violation of university policy by Escobedo when it came to his attention in 2006, allowing Escobedo’s behavior to continue. McLaughlin was chair of the English Department at the time.
McLaughlin said he will recuse himself from the hearing. He said he will request that Descutner ask the four remaining members of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee to appoint a chair for the hearing committee.
“I believe that, as a member of Dr. Escobedo's home department, it would be inappropriate for me to perform that function,” he said in an email.
Escobedo may request the hearing to be held in open session. If he doesn’t, it will be a closed session — only he, his counsel and members of the committee will be allowed in the room, and witnesses will only be allowed in the session while they testify. The university president may also choose to attend the hearing.
After the faculty committee votes, the Ohio University Board of Trustees will review the committee’s decision and either sustain it or object to it.
Escobedo has repeatedly declined to comment on the disciplinary proceedings or the federal complaint against him. He is currently on paid administrative leave and is banned from campus.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly quoted Joe McLaughlin. The story has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.