California professor keeps job after admitting to sexually assaulting student
A student at San Jose State University in California says that justice has not been served because a professor who admitted to sexually assaulting her was not disciplined and was allowed to keep his job.
The student, who asked KNTV not to identify her, met with adjunct professor Jeffry Mathis in his office in August to discuss why her prior semester’s grade had been a D+. Mathis told her that he believe she had plagiarized. The student, however, denied that, arguing that she had not properly cited her sources.
“He looked at me and touched me and said, ‘How do you want to better your grade?'” the student said, choking up. “He kept coming closer to me and my body completely shut down. He continued to touch me and try to talk about the ways that I could better my grade.”
The student said she told Mathis to stop, but he refused.
“Then he straddled me and sat on me,” she recalled, “and put his hands up my shirt and under my sweater and was rubbing me.”
“He blocked the stairs and said the only way I will let you leave is if I can grab your butt… But it has to be the way I want to grab it.”
The student explained to KNTV that she ran from the office and later called university police after he tried to grab another body part. Mathis was investigated for false imprisonment and sexual battery. In the end, no charges were filed.
“Everything that professor said [in that report] was a lie,” the young woman insisted. “He said I wanted to kiss him, that I wanted him. Everything was just a lie. He made it sound like I was the bad guy, and that wasn’t the case at all.”
When confronted by KNTV reporter Tony Kovaleski, Mathis said he was “not allowed” to talk about what had happened, but the station obtained an email the professor sent to the student the day after the confrontation where he admitted making a “mistake.”
“I’ve been thinking about last night and I have come to the conclusion that I made a terrible mistake in how I handled that situation,” Mathis wrote. The email continued, “I will change your grade to a B- for free, because it is the right way to handle this.”
KNTV obtained a copy of the university’s confidential investigation, which found that “there is insufficient evidence against [Mathis] to substantiate the claim of sexual harassment and sexual assault against the [student].” It also stated that Mathis admitted to “kissing and touching the [student] sexually although stating it was consensual.”
A spokesperson for the university, however, confirmed to the station that Mathis did not face a formal disciplinary hearing and was not disciplined over the incident.
The student said the confrontation still haunts her nine months later.
“This is something I have to go through that I never thought I would have to go through,” she said. “Especially in my college career.”
Watch this video from KNTV, broadcast May 9, 2013.
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