Clemson University Sued for Mishandling Sexual Assault Complaint
The lawsuit, filed by a food science and technology student who identified himself as Bradley Hieronymus, alleges the university and its Title IX coordinator, Alesia Smith, of not providing him with appropriate measures given to a student who is a victim of sexual abuse.
The suit stems out of a sexual harassment and sexual abuse complaint filed by Hieronymus against Dr. Felix Barron, a professor in Clemson’s Biological Sciences College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.
Barron has been accused of sexually harassing Hieronymus by touching him “in ways that were uncomfortable” and “unwanted,” as noted in a letter from the university’s Office of Access and Equity on July 19, 2018.
According to the lawsuit, the incident happened during a work-related trip to Peru in March 2018, where Barron demanded that Hieronymus take a shower with him and made inappropriate gestures by touching his genitals. Barron also threatened retaliation if Hieronymus didn’t comply with his demands.
“Barron’s hostile environment, sexual harassment/assault on this Plaintiff was so extreme and outrageous so as to exceed all possible bounds of decency that it is regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in the United States, South Carolina and any other civilized community on the Planet,” the lawsuit states.
According to WYYF 4 news, after returning from the trip, Hieronymus filed a formal complaint with the university’s Title IX Department, which found Barron guilty of misconduct. Joe Galbraith, Clemson’s vice president for strategic communications, told the Greenville News that Barron was “dismissed” from the university on July 23, 2018.
The suit asks the court to either force the university to comply with Title IX processes and procedures, or to freeze its Title IX funds.
“It is time that victims need to be protected with the full strength of the law,” John Reckenbeil, the attorney representing Hieronymus, said. “If you do nothing for victims, there is a chilling effect. Why would Bradley give up on all of those promises that Barron would make him a millionaire? If we do nothing for this young man, then what about all the others?”
The university has been given 30 days to respond to the suit.
Last month, the university paid $100,000 to settle another sexual misconduct case filed by a former student. The suit alleged the university of denying the accused a fair hearing and instituting a harsh punishment for the kind of offense.