UCC defends handling of harassment complaint

THE president of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy, has strongly defended the college’s handling of a complaint of sexual harassment made against a lecturer over an article about oral sex among fruit bats.

A colleague of Dylan Evans in UCC’s School of Medicine, told college authorities she felt sexually harassed after he came into her office and showed her an article about oral sex among fruit bats.

She also claimed she felt sexually harassed prior to this event on November 2, 2009, calling his behaviour “inappropriate and offensive” and stating that he did not understand boundaries and made the workplace “unpleasant and unsafe”.

While the external investigators cleared him of all charges of sexual harassment prior to November 2, 2009, they upheld the complaint regarding the article, saying Mr Evans' behaviour was not malicious.

However, Mr Evans this morning reiterated his belief that the president had acted against the findings of external disciplinary examiners dealing with the complaint.

He said he was “devastated” when the complaint was made by his colleague and had offered, through the human resources department, to resolve the issue informally.

Mr Evans, and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) who are supporting him, believe the report found the action of showing the article was not sexual harassment.

Mr Evans said: “I assumed the findings had exonerated me and was relieved to have been cleared.”

However, UCC president Dr Murphy, refuted this.

He said the investigators had upheld the complaint regarding showing her the article about oral sex among bats and that this amounted to sexual harassment.

Dr Murphy said the sanctions imposed on Mr Evans, a two-year period of intensive monitoring and counselling, were in line with UCC’s outlined protocols.

Mr Evans fears that having a complaint of sexual harassment on his record will harm his chances of getting tenure.

Mr Evans has said he had showed other colleagues the article and did so in a professional academic capacity.

Details of the complaint made, as well as the rulings by the examiners, have appeared online, and Dr Murphy said any breach of confidentiality will also be dealt with under the college’s code of conduct.

Mr Evans has received the support of IFUT as well as professors in the States and worldwide, after starting an online petition against the action by the president.

A UCC spokesman yesterday said: “UCC views with the utmost gravity the fact that confidential documentation concerning an internal allegation of sexual harassment, including the report of a formal investigation, conducted by experienced senior external investigators, was posted to various social media platforms, in contravention of university policy and procedure.

“It is imperative, in the interests of fairness to all sides involved, and for such procedures to work effectively, that the university and the parties to procedures of this nature, maintain the confidentiality that governs them. Failure to do so, impinges on the rights of staff who feel it necessary to lodge a complaint against a fellow staff member.”

This story courtesy of the Evening Echo

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