The 4 have been all high-ranking males at totally different California State University campuses — three have been vice presidents for scholar affairs.
Each was accused of inappropriately touching girls and making unwelcome sexual feedback. And every case was dealt with in a different way.
Two of the accused males have been allowed to proceed working whereas below investigation, however a 3rd was positioned on go away. Two campuses employed outdoors corporations to research, one other farmed its investigation out to a special campus. In the fourth case, no formal investigation was even conducted.
Hundreds of pages of investigative experiences, settlement paperwork and different data launched to The Times, in addition to interviews with consultants and former college officers who oversaw such circumstances, spotlight the inconsistent method through which the California State University system investigates and resolves sexual harassment complaints throughout its 23 campuses.
Officials within the nation’s largest four-year public college system say they’ve an in depth sexual harassment coverage and comply with training code and labor agreements throughout investigations, however they acknowledge that they supply nearly no extra written steerage in essential areas, equivalent to launching investigations or disciplinary measures that must be thought-about when allegations are confirmed.
In the 4 circumstances reviewed by The Times, one man was accused of giving lingering hugs and asking a girl what kind of lingerie she wore; one other allegedly caressed a girl’s thigh throughout a college occasion; and a 3rd was accused of shifting his hand up one other worker’s thigh whereas speaking to her about job alternatives.
In the 2 circumstances through which misconduct was discovered to have been “severe, persistent or pervasive,” one college, which beforehand offered its administrator with government teaching previous to any investigation, allowed him to retire with a lucrative payout and letter of recommendation; the opposite allowed its administrator to resign with a negotiated payout and paid day without work previous to his leaving.
“It’s troubling. There should be clearer standards,” stated Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levinson. “You don’t want every campus creating their own approach.”
Providing clearer steerage would assist guarantee a extra constant and truthful course of for everybody concerned, together with college students, stated Sharon Reiter, a former affiliate vp at Cal Poly Pomona who oversaw sexual harassment investigations earlier than retiring in 2020.
“They really need the guidance so there’s consistency,” she stated.
Title IX consultants acknowledged that investigators must keep in mind the particular circumstances of each allegation and that subjectivity will at all times play some function in deciding tips on how to deal with every case. But, they stated, there must be some consistency about when investigations are launched, who conducts these investigations and what motion is taken when misconduct is confirmed.
“What is important is that policies are as clear as they can be,” stated Shiwali Patel, director of justice for scholar survivors and senior counsel for the National Women’s Law Center.
Cal State officers stated they don’t monitor sexual harassment and retaliation circumstances systemwide or the taxpayer cash that has been paid to settle authorized claims and lawsuits. But information experiences and data to date launched by CSU present that within the final three years, the college system has paid almost $7 million to resolve circumstances associated to sexual harassment and retaliation.
The CSU has employed an out of doors agency to review how Title IX cases involving sexual and gender harassment are dealt with by campuses, after latest controversies which have rocked prime management. Joseph I. Castro stepped down as chancellor in February amid outcry over his dealing with of intercourse harassment and workforce bullying accusations towards a prime Fresno State official whereas he was president of the campus.
Scandal has additionally shaken the Sonoma campus after sexual harassment allegations leveled towards President Judy Sakaki’s husband, lobbyist Patrick McCallum, who was thought-about an official college volunteer.
Cal State paid $600,000 this year to settle a claim by former Provost Lisa Vollendorf, who alleged retaliation by Sakaki, her boss, after she reported to officers within the chancellor’s workplace that a number of girls had accused McCallum of undesirable touching and making sexual feedback.
Settlement data present girls alleged that McCallum talked about his intercourse life, ran his fingers by way of one lady’s hair in an intimate trend after which made “inappropriate personal comments” about her look throughout a celebration at his home. Sakaki and McCallum, who’ve since separated after a Times investigation detailing the settlement, have denied the claims.
The chancellor’s workplace stated the system’s Title IX officer determined towards launching a proper investigation as a result of the ladies didn’t wish to go ahead with an inquiry, which might have required statements with their names. Sakaki spoke to her husband after studying in regards to the allegations, however no additional motion was taken, the CSU stated.
Two state senators have called on Sakaki to step down after a college vote of no confidence in her management.
Documents obtained by The Times below the state’s open data regulation present that allegations at three different campuses have been dealt with very in a different way.
William Gregory Sawyer was a revered chief at Cal State’s Channel Islands campus. Known by many college students as “Doc,” he was the campus’ founding vp for scholar affairs.
But shortly after Sawyer was appointed to the identical place at Sonoma State in early 2018, his former campus launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment after a girl got here ahead with complaints.
Channel Islands employed an out of doors agency to research. Sawyer was on medical go away for a while through the investigation however was in any other case allowed to return to work on the Sonoma campus, the data present.
Witnesses alleged conduct that crossed the skilled line. One lady stated Sawyer as soon as tossed a Victoria’s Secret catalog onto her desk and, referring to a web page displaying thong underwear, requested if she wore that kind of lingerie, the data present.
Sawyer denied sexually harassing girls or appearing inappropriately. In an electronic mail to a Times reporter, he referred to as the allegations “baseless” however declined additional remark in regards to the complaints.
The investigation concluded that Sawyer engaged in inappropriate conduct with two girls on campus, together with giving unwelcome hugs, calling one “feisty,” “spicy” and “sassy” and taking a look at her in a manner she perceived as sexual, the data present.
After reviewing the investigation’s findings, data present, Channel Islands officers decided that Sawyer’s conduct was unprofessional however didn’t quantity to sexual harassment as a result of it “did not rise to the level of being so severe and pervasive.”
Sawyer acquired no self-discipline. Sakaki communicated her expectations of him, a campus spokesperson stated, however didn’t require him to endure corrective motion, equivalent to counseling or government teaching.
At Chico State, data present, an worker alleged in 2019 that Milton Lang, then vp for scholar affairs, twice touched her thigh at a college occasion. He put his hand on prime of her denims and caressed her thigh together with his thumb. After she positioned her hand on her thigh to stop him from touching her once more, she stated, he positioned his hand over hers.
Lang apologized to the lady the following day for “bumping her knee,” the lady advised an investigator, a remark she believed to be an try to guard himself, based on the data. Lang disputed the declare that the contact was something however unintended. The lady stated that she was “in shock” on the time of the incident, and within the aftermath stated that she not felt protected to be on campus for worry that Lang would retaliate towards her.
The investigation was carried out by a staffer from Sacramento State University, the data present. Lang was allowed to stay working. He didn’t supervise the lady or typically work together together with her on campus, a Chico State spokesperson stated.
The investigation discovered the lady to be credible, noting her distressed conversations in regards to the incident with others instantly after. The investigator discovered that Lang sexually harassed the lady, violating CSU coverage. Lang was positioned on paid administrative go away for 3 months after the investigation. He agreed to resign with a payout of greater than $42,000.
Lang didn’t reply to requests for remark.
At Fresno State, allegations of misconduct towards its vp for scholar affairs, Frank Lamas, went again years, based on data launched by the college. After receiving nameless allegations of bullying and inappropriate feedback from 2014 to 2016, Castro, then campus president, didn’t launch an investigation however as an alternative instructed Lamas to endure coaching from an out of doors marketing consultant involving harassment and workforce discrimination. Findings from a university-commissioned survey didn’t title Lamas however had referenced a hostile work surroundings and sexist feedback within the scholar affairs division previous to the coaching.
In October 2019, a girl filed a proper criticism alleging that Lamas touched her knee and moved his hand up her thigh in a automotive whereas speaking to her about job prospects, the data present. She stated the incident got here after a minimum of two years of unwelcome encounters that included touching her shoulder whereas adjusting her bra strap, grabbing her arm, touching her decrease again and placing his arm round her even after she requested him to not contact her.
Castro instantly positioned Lamas on go away whereas the college ordered an investigation by an out of doors agency, which concluded that the allegations have been credible. In interviews with The Times, Lamas has disputed the findings and offered emails from officers commending his work.
In 2020, Castro quietly authorized a $260,000 payout for Lamas together with a retirement package deal and glowing letter of advice. Weeks later, Castro grew to become chancellor of CSU. He has advised The Times that he was suggested by the earlier chancellor, Timothy P. White, who approved the key settlement with Lamas.
Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), who chairs the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit and is amongst dozens of state lawmakers calling for an unbiased audit of how the CSU handles sexual harassment circumstances, advised The Times he was involved in regards to the totally different approaches the campuses took to related forms of allegations. The method through which CSU officers examine complaints, he stated, “reeks of inconsistencies and bias.”
“That’s why we want the independent auditor to go in and not only identify the inconsistencies,” he stated, “but to make recommendations on policies and procedures to create consistency [and] accountability.”