Texas A&M is investigating four new claims of sexual assault and harassment leveled against a supervisory staff member working in the school’s Vet Med Teaching Hospital.
Three current and one former employee say the man repeatedly made suggestive sexual comments in the workplace, made sexual advances against them and, in at least one case, inappropriately touched a coworker. The alleged victims are administrative staff members, not students or faculty members.
Texas A&M Opens Workplace Sexual Assault Investigation
The allegations involve very recent misconduct, with the first report being made on July 6, 2018, when a woman came forward to describe how her supervisor at the teaching hospital forced her into a corner and began to make “strong sexual comments,” KBTX reports. She drew a pocket knife and told the man to leave her alone. The man “threatened her job if he was reported,” a Crime Alert from the Texas A&M University Police Department reads.
Victims Describe Sexual Harassment, Inappropriate Touching
Officials from the University Police Department began to reach out to other workers in the office. Two more employees described similar experiences.
Contacted by university police officers, the employees said the supervisor “would make strong sexual overtures, graphic sexual comments to them, and at times touch[…] them inappropriately.”
They say that when his advances were rebuffed, the supervisor would reassign them to work in an area without air conditioning and no security cameras.
A fourth victim stepped forward 10 days later, accusing the supervisor of sexually assaulting her multiple times on and off campus nearly 30 years ago. She says the man threatened to “derail” her retirement if she came forward. The supervisor is now on paid administrative leave, which is standard during open investigations.
Sexual Assault, Abuse Scandal Hits Texas A&M
Like many other universities, Texas A&M is currently taking fire over its handling of sexual assault and abuse complaints. A number of students have come forward, reporting their dissatisfaction with the university’s processing of their own complaints, including a female student whose assailant was allowed to rejoin the school’s swim team after just one semester’s suspension.
A recent Houston Chronicle investigation found at least 20 students, since 2003, who were allowed to remain at Texas A&M despite having been found responsible for sexual misconduct. The school routinely suspends students who are found to have committed sexual assault, but does not expel them, the Houston Chronicle review of administrative documents found.
Administrators Pin Hopes On Independent Review
In light of the growing scandal, with widespread discontent from the student body, the school has contracted with an outside law firm, Husch Blackwell, to review its sexual assault reporting and response policies.
“This level of scrutiny is what we owe our students and their families, our faculty, staff and the Aggie family around the world,” said Texas A&M President Michael Young in a statement to Aggies on June 15, 2018. Husch Blackwell will review “the university’s investigative procedures, sensitivity to trauma, best practice in advocacy and sanctions,” the Chronicle says.
At the same time, Texas A&M is facing a bevy of lawsuits filed by young men who were accused of sexual assault and believe they were treated unfairly. The plaintiffs say they were stripped of their rights to due process, assumed to be guilty before the merits of their cases had ever been adjudicated.