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Students protest professor Andrew Escobedo, who was accused of sexually harassing multiple students, while demanding his termination and that the university stops supporting him. (FILE)

Ex-English professor accused of additional sexual harassment

Ohio University received an additional complaint of sexual harassment against ex-English professor Andrew Escobedo in December.

Escobedo was facing dismissal for sexual harassment when he resigned in August. In March 2016, an Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance investigation found that he more likely than not sexually harassed students in cases spanning more than a decade. Six students filed complaints with the office, and investigators found enough evidence to substantiate four of those complaints.

The two graduate students who filed the initial complaints, Susanna Hempstead and Christine Adams, said Escobedo bought them drinks at local bars and sexually touched them without consent. They have since filed a civil rights complaint in federal court against Escobedo, the university and former English department chair Joe McLaughlin.

In the Dec. 21 complaint, an unnamed junior professor told an investigator Escobedo pressed his body against hers and repeatedly attempted to kiss her. The Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, using a preponderance of evidence standard, found that Escobedo more likely than not violated university sexual harassment policy.

The junior professor felt compelled to report the incident in February 2017 after a faculty discussion in which English faculty were asked to recommend whether Escobedo should be detenured and dismissed after the university found he sexually harassed Hempstead and Adams.

The incident reportedly occurred in January 2011 when Escobedo and the junior professor, along with another faculty member, went out for drinks and dinner at Casa Nueva and Tony’s Tavern after a faculty meeting. At the time, the junior professor was an untenured assistant professor, and Escobedo was a tenured associate professor and her tenure advocate. After the other faculty member left and the two were alone, Escobedo reportedly pulled the junior professor into an alleyway.

Escobedo pressed his whole body against the junior professor’s body and attempted to kiss her, according to the report. He did not make contact with her lips because the junior professor turned away from the attempted kiss.

The junior professor said he repeatedly said to her, “We like each other. We like each other.” She replied, “Not like that.” He attempted to kiss her a few more times, she said.

Escobedo told the investigator he did not remember going out for dinner and drinks with the junior professor. In an email the day after the incident, however, he told her he was glad she came out to dinner with him, according to the report.

In navigating the tenure process, she felt “dependent” on Escobedo, according to the report. While Escobedo pressed himself against her, she thought, ”I can’t piss him off.”

The junior professor told the investigator she had a conversation with Escobedo at Catalyst Cafe and told him she was not interested in his advances. Escobedo said they did not discuss his sexual advances, and that they exclusively discussed her tenure application.

The junior professor did not ask Escobedo to step down as her tenure adviser because she didn’t want to send “red flags” to her colleagues or “complicate” her tenure application, according to the report. Escobedo contended that if he had actually made sexual advances, she would have told him to step down.

In the report, the investigator found that Escobedo more likely than not made unwanted sexual advances against the junior faculty member at a time when she was “particularly vulnerable.”

The Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance typically recommends departmental sexual harassment training in similar circumstances, according to the report, but because the English department had already received “extensive” sexual harassment training, the office recommended the department be evaluated yearly to determine if training is needed.


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