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Civil lawsuit filed against Ohio University, suspended journalism professor

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Ohio University and a suspended OU journalism professor in light of a sexual harassment case. 

Attorney Michael Fradin filed a civil suit against Yusuf Kalyango and the university Jan. 20. That was in response to the “deliberate indifference” of the defendants regarding the sexual harassment case that was filed to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, or ECRC, last year.

The ECRC investigation found Kalyango, director of the Institute for International Journalism, responsible for sexual harassment by quid pro quo and sexual harassment by hostile work environment toward a graduate student in August, according to a previous Post report.

“Defendant Ohio University was deliberately indifferent to Defendant Kalyango’s past misconduct, fostering a safe space for sexual misconduct and empowering Defendant Kalyango to confidently abuse his authority,” the complaint for jury trial said. “If this Court does not grant appropriate relief, Defendants will not stop causing severe and permanent harm to its female graduate students.”

The ECRC findings are based on a preponderance of evidence standard, meaning the office found that Kalyango more likely than not to have sexually harassed the student. That standard is lower than the standard of criminal proceedings, which require a defendant to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The student had been hired as a staff member in spring 2017 for two upcoming programs run by Kalyango, where he offered the student an opportunity to travel abroad with him. The student had been hired to work during a summer program and a fall program, and the trip abroad directly followed the summer program. 

Just two days before Kalyango and the student were scheduled to depart, Kalyango told her they would have to share a hotel room because only one was available. The student rejected that as inappropriate, and Kalyango tried to convince her otherwise, according to the report. Kalyango ended up staying in another city.

An ECRC investigator found that there was no “reasonable, non-sexual rationale” for the two to share a hotel room.

“The only reasonable objective perspective is that a full professor requested that a graduate student enrolled in his own institution place herself at considerable risk for inappropriate, sexual advances by (him) thousands of miles from home and in a country with which (he) is familiar and comfortable but where (she) would be nearly completely dependent upon (him),” Investigator G. Antonio Anaya said in the report.

Kalyango had reportedly emailed and texted the student after hours frequently throughout spring and would compliment her clothing and physique. Kalyango asked the student for a photo of her to show his son, invited her out for meals and coffee numerous times and shared personal details about his previous marriage, according to the report. 

After the student rejected Kalyango’s invitation to stay in the same hotel room, he began to treat her differently, according to the report. 

In July, Kalyango sent the student an email accusing her of falsifying evaluations for the summer program in order to make herself look better and him worse and entering incomplete and inaccurate data. The student resigned from her position in the fall program Kalyango directed. 

On Dec. 6, Executive Vice President and Provost Chaden Djalali accepted the University Professional Ethics Committee’s judgement that Kalyango’s conduct “presents adequate cause” to recommend that the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism initiate loss of tenure and/or dismissal proceedings, according to a letter signed by Djalali. 

The university is unable to comment on pending litigation, Carly Leatherwood, university spokeswoman, said.


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