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Christine Adams, left, and Susanna Hempstead, center, listen to a speaker during a rally outside of Ellis Hall on Feb. 24, 2017. The rally was held in response to the university's treatment of the sexual harassment allegations against English professor Andrew Escobedo. (FILE)

English professor facing dismissal for sexual harassment resigns

An Ohio University English professor facing dismissal for sexual harassment has resigned from his position.

Andrew Escobedo’s resignation, submitted Friday afternoon, will take effect Nov. 1, according to a statement by OU President Duane Nellis. Escobedo has waived his right to the Faculty Senate hearing regarding his detenuring previously scheduled for Sept. 1.

His resignation comes more than a year after two graduate students, Susanna Hempstead and Christine Adams, filed complaints against Escobedo with the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance. They told investigators he bought them alcoholic drinks at an end-of-semester gathering, touched them sexually and kissed one of them without consent after commenting that he hadn’t submitted their grades yet. The university investigation into those complaints lasted from March to December 2016. On March 2, then-OU interim President David Descutner initiated the dismissal proceedings against Escobedo.

Six people filed complaints against Escobedo, and investigators uncovered enough evidence to find that he violated university policy in four of those cases. The complaints stemmed from incidents as early as 2003, and the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance found that he repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances toward female students.

Escobedo has denied that he broke university policy or has a tendency to make sexual advances toward students.

Students have criticized the university’s response to the accusations as being too slow. Athens residents and students demanded Escobedo be fired during a February rally. Some English graduate students said they faced retaliation for backing Hempstead and Adams and said some faculty members vocally supported Escobedo.

In March, Hempstead and Adams filed a federal civil rights complaint against the university, Escobedo and former English Department Chair Joe McLaughlin. They argue that McLaughlin and the university were aware of previous misconduct by Escobedo but did nothing, allowing his behavior to continue and violating the womens' rights to equal access to education. Hempstead and Adams have requested a jury trial to settle the matter.

In his statement Friday, Nellis said he will be speaking with student, faculty and staff leaders about ways to prevent sexual misconduct going forward.

“Brave women and other people in our community stepped forward to bring intolerable behavior to light,” Nellis wrote in the statement. “The healing process I envision is not one that will dim this light but rather intensify our efforts to ensure our community is a safe place to learn and work.”

Escobedo is on paid academic leave and banned from campus. His salary is about $87,000 a year.


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