FOI Documents Show Professors Accused Of Sexual Misconduct Went On To Other Universities

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FOI Documents Show Professors Accused Of Sexual Misconduct Went On To Other Universities

Tom Hopkins, Staff Writer

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One former Central Connecticut professor and a former athletics coach who were found to have violated the university’s nondiscrimination and sexual misconduct policies have gone on to find employment elsewhere in their fields. In one of these cases, and two additional cases where criminal charges were pressed, CCSU allowed these men to resign from their positions, instead of properly terminating them.

In a June 2017 report, recently released by the university via FOI request, a female student alleged that adjunct professor Mohamed Ghonaim had sexually harassed her on multiple occasions. According to the complaint, Ghonaim repeatedly made comments about her appearance, calling her beautiful and saying that she resembled his ex-girlfriend. After arriving to class late one day and missing a quiz, Ghonaim instructed the student to stay after class. While alone Ghonaim sat next to her and commented on her resemblance to his ex-girlfriend whom was once a student of his and “indicated he would give her special treatment and allow her to make up the quiz,” the report said.

Upon completion of the quiz, Ghonaim asked to walk out together, the student, already fearful of him, agreed. Once they arrived at his car, Ghonaim gave her his cell phone number, hugged her and suggested he walk her to her car which was parked in a different lot (Kaiser). Once at her car he asked for a ride back to his car. During the car ride he touched her hair, hugged her and kissed her on the cheek before leaving, according to the complaint.

In another interaction in his office, Ghonaim shared with her the details of a sexually explicit dream he had of which she was the subject. “I dreamt you came to ask me a question after class and things get very heated,” Ghonaim said according to the complaint. “We went to the back room and I give it to you from behind. It was so real that I woke up from it, like a wet dream.”

According to the complaint, Ghonaim also manufactured ways to get himself alone with the student. He graded her notebook from a group project last, assuring they would be alone in the classroom together, then offering to walk her to the Kaiser parking lot where he began parking, which was further away from the building he worked in than Vance lot he usually parked in. Upon arriving at his car, he asked her to get in and talk, she declined, but he pressured her. Once inside, he commented on her looks and how much he loved her body, he touched her hair and began creeping his hand to her back, then further down her back near her butt.

Despite her uncomfortable body language Ghonaim continued until she said she had to leave, at which point he insisted she eat candy and drink water that was in his car to show that she trusted him. She declined. Ghonaim then told her how much he want to touch her and that “he has the ‘sex drive of a teenager’ because he has ‘high testosterone,’” according to the complaint. He then put his hand on her inner thigh, when she attempted to leave he put his arms around her and asked her to stay. Ghonaim then asked to kiss her, she said no. He kissed her on the cheek anyway. She had to struggle to finally be able to leave the car.

Ghonaim confirmed parts of the student’s allegation while denying others. However, the investigators found him to not be credible and, based on the evidence, found it more likely than not that he violated CCSU’s Nondiscrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policies by creating a hostile learning environment based on gender and using threats, demands, or suggestions that retention of one’s educational status is contingent upon toleration of or acquiescence in sexual advances.

CCSU Director of Public Relations, Janice Palmer, said in an email that Ghoniam left as the university was taking the proper steps to terminate him. Ghonaim continues to teach at the University of Hartford and the Community College of Rhode Island. Ghonaim did not respond to request for comment. Representatives from the University of Hartford were not immediately available for comment, but Ghonaim is listed in their online directory as an adjunct professor. CCRI did not respond to request for comment, but he is listed as an associate professor the school’s website.

A report from April 2014 investigated another alleged violation of nondiscrimination and sexual harassment policies, involving the women’s softball coach at the time, Jeffrey Franquet, that found he subjected a player or employee (identifying information was redacted) to “severe, pervasive and persistent unwelcome comments and actions of a sexual nature.”

According to the complaint, Franquet asked a female employee for sex, made sexual comments to and about female athletes and employees, made inappropriate comments to female athletes about their bodies and showed a female employee a nude picture of himself. The investigators interviewed 21 student witnesses and 12 employee witnesses, and found that Franquet made inappropriate comments about his player’s bodies.

It was reported by one player that he said “If I was [in college], or if I could I would date (redacted player name) she’s like the perfect girl.”

Another player said that he showed her an inappropriate photo of himself, possibly naked.

Several players also reported that he made comments that he could “bounce a coin off” or “balance a cup” off their butts, told one player she had a “ghetto booty” and called some players fat.

According to the report’s findings, four female employees detailed at least one occasion where Franquet talked about his sex life or made a comment about a sex act he wanted to do with them. One employee reported that Franquet once gauged her interest in having a threesome with him and his wife.

According to the report, there were also rumors that Franquet had an inappropriate, perhaps sexual relationship with one of his players, but investigators found no evidence of the claim and rumored player failed to appear for an interview. It was also reported second-hand that Franquet made a comment to one of his assistant coaches that he wanted to “stick it in any hole” of a player’s body. However, investigators were unable to interview the person who allegedly told the players about the comment and therefore could not confirm it.

Franquet recently took a job coaching women’s softball at Delaware State University. “I am pleased to welcome Jeff Franquet and his family to Hornet Athletics,” DSU Director of Athletics Dr. D. Scott Dines said in an announcement welcoming Franquet as the head coach. “We conducted an experienced, deep search, and Jeff rose to the surface as a great fit for DSU Softball,” Dines said. Franquet did not respond immediately for comment and representatives from Delaware State University were unavailable for comment.

Palmer said in an email that Franquet was properly terminated by the university.

It is unclear if the University of Hartford, the Community College of Rhode Island or Delaware State University knew of the sexual misconduct violations of their respective employees. Palmer explained that under the CCSU teacher’s union contract, CCSU cannot share employee files. “Though the AAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits the disclosure of personnel records, HR is able to share whether or not an employee was in “good standing” when they left, retired, or were terminated from the University,” Palmer said in an email.

The inability to disclose personnel files has led to others who have violated CCSU’s sexual misconduct policies to go on to find work in their fields.

As reported in 2010, Moises Salinas, an associate professor of psychology and CCSU’s first Chief Diversity Officer, the person who handles all incidents of sexual misconduct on campus, was found by the University Counsel, Carolyn Magnon, to have made “unwelcome sexual advances” on a student. The student, Krystal Rich, alleged, according to the report, that Salinas asked her to go to lunch with him and while at lunch sat uncomfortably close to her and repeatedly touched her inappropriately. He grabbed her hand, holding it while rubbing it with his other hand and repeatedly touched her thighs.

After leaving the restaurant, Salinas made further unwelcome advances on Rich is his car. He again touched her thighs, then grabbed her arm to pull her closer to him and attempted to kiss Rich. She turn her head so his lips landed on her cheek. Salinas pulled her closer again and even though Rich turned her head again, he managed to kiss her on the mouth and then jammed his tongue through her closed lips. Salinas tried kissing her again, but Rich successfully turned away so he only caught her cheek. He then forced his hand between her thighs and slid it up to her crotch.

In her report, Magnon recommended the matter be referred to Human Resources for further action. Charges were brought against Salinas, he pleaded no contest and received just a one year suspended sentence and a two year conditional discharge, with the conditions that Salinas resign from CCSU, not teach again and leave the country.

Salinas went back to his home country of Mexico and became the Academic Dean at Hebraica University in Mexico City. He is now the Rector (president) of ORT University Mexico, grimly ironic, as the institution focuses on social justice and leadership, according to their website. Salinas has had a book published by Random House since the incident.

In another report from 2014, adjunct English Professor Daniel Gula sexually assaulted student Shannon Cunningham. According to the report, he asked her for a hug and when she hugged him he held her tightly, grouped her, tried to kiss her and then put his tongue in her ear. When she told him to stop he continued and exposed his genitals to her. When Cunningham was leaving he asked her, “What do you expect me to do with this?” as he pointed at his penis. When she bent down to pick up her bag and leave, Gula rubbed his body against her backside.

As reported at the time, Cunningham did not initially press criminal charges against Gula. She only did so after she discovered that CCSU allowed him to resign and he was able to get a job at an all-women’s college.