A University of South Carolina (UofSC) student who claims she was sexually harassed by her history professor has filed a lawsuit against the school in Richland County court.
Mary Elizabeth Johns has accused Dr. David Snyder, history professor and Faculty Principal of Maxcy College of sexual harassment, grooming, and abuse from 2018 to 2020.
According to the lawsuit, Johns, who was attending class at UofSC in 2018 while taking care of her ailing mother and grieving the loss of another family member, started receiving “unexpected attention” from Snyder around the same time.
Snyder “coaxed” Johns to visit his house, saying he wanted to help her overcome her grief. During these visits, he “tried to touch and kiss” her while manipulating her about getting into a sexual relationship with him.
Snyder, who was married, later sent her sexually explicit emails. At one point, he sent Johns 184 emails in a row.
As Johns grew wary of professor Snyder’s behavior, she cut off contact with him. Yet, despite repeated warnings, Snyder continued to pursue her.
The lawsuit accuses UofSC of failing to protect Johns as well as other victims of sexual abuse on campus. “UofSC allows this sexual harassment, grooming, and abuse to continue unabated and those responsible continue to go unpunished,” the lawsuit said.
‘We Must Better Support Survivors’
Earlier this month, UofSC President Bob Caslen wrote an email to students saying the school will take several new steps to address sexual misconduct on campus, The State reported.
Caslen’s email came in the same week that UofSC fired theater professor Robert Richmond for asking female students to give lap dances during an audition for a play.
In his email, Caslen assured the community that UofSC will enforce due process in all matters related to misconduct in a manner consistent with the regulations established by the Department of Education. “We must better support survivors, protect the rights of the accused and ensure our compliance with the law,” he wrote.