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University of California Releases Records of Complaints of Sexual Assault and Violence on Its Campuses

March 9, 2017

The University of California has released over 100 records that describe the final reports of complaints of sexual harassment, assault, and violence on its 10 campuses. The reports are from a 3½-year period between January 2013 and April 2016.

According to a summary provided by the university in response to a California Public Records Act request from the Public Radio station in San Francisco and other media outlets, 75% of the cases involved complaints made against university staff, with the remaining quarter involving faculty. The reports show that staff members made more than half of the complaints, and 35% were made by students, alleging misconduct such as stalking and groping. UC said that 7% of the cases involved sexual assault, including the touching of private body parts.

The University of California pointed out that roughly two-thirds of the accused were no longer working for the university system. Here are a few of the cases detailed in the reports released by the university:

      • A former UC Santa Cruz professor was found to have sexually assaulted a student who says she was drunk and “blacked out”;
      • A UC Merced professor put on “wild” parties for students where he would dance provocatively with students and make inappropriate and unwelcome advances toward female students under his supervision; and
      • A UC San Diego janitor was fired after he was found to have stalked a woman, including repeatedly following her into a bathroom and approaching her with unzipped pants.

The UC campuses—particularly UC Berkeley—have been criticized for slow response to charges of sexual harassment, abuse, or violence. However, in March 2016, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced changes to the university’s sexual harassment and violence procedures and policies. A month later, in a letter to members of a review committee she created, she laid out the steps she was taking to strengthen the university’s procedures and policies for cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

“…several cases that have recently come to light make clear that we have much more work to do,” Napolitano’s letter said.  

“Our goals should be threefold,” she wrote. “Foster a culture of safety and respect on all our campuses; provide clarity, fairness, and timeliness when investigations are undertaken; and ensure that any sanctions are commensurate with the seriousness of substantiated complaints.”

Napolitano hired a new Title IX coordinator for the entire university, turning to UCLA’s Title IX coordinator, Kathleen Salvaty, to fill that position (Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program receiving federal financial assistance.)

Salvaty, who’s been on the job for just a few weeks, said her first priority is to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, bias, and violence, and “ensuring that our students and our employees can access their education free from discrimination, which includes sexual violence and sexual harassment.”

“Given the seriousness of these cases and the shortcomings that have been identified with existing processes and policies, however, this work is crucial,” Napolitano wrote in her letter to her review committee.

The attorneys at the Cifarelli Law Firm have found sexual abuse can take many forms and happen in many situations. If you suspect abuse, it is important to report it to authorities so that proper investigation can take place. In addition, email us or call our office based in Irvine, California, at (949) 502-8600 to schedule a confidential and free initial consultation. Act now in your case by contacting a trusted lawyer who can provide insight and understanding while protecting your rights.

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