Bellarmine sued by student claiming he was punished for filing sexual harassment complaint

Bellarmine sued by student claiming he was punished for filing sexual harassment complaint

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Bellarmine University student filed a lawsuit claiming the university punished him for filing a sexual harassment complaint against a professor.

Attorney Josh Engel said the unnamed student was in an inappropriate six-month relationship with a professor and the two exchanged sexually provocative text messages.

When the student ended the relationship, he claimed the professor kicked him off an important research project.

The student filed a complaint with Bellarmine. But Engel said an internal investigation determined there was no harassment and the student was punished.

"Part of the punishment against the student was to put him on probation," Engel said, "put him 'not in good standing' which made him not eligible to participate in activities on campus, allow him to go on study abroad trips and the like."

Engel said both the alleged actions of the professor and the university violate Title IX, the law prohibiting gender discrimination at educational institutions. Most people know Title IX by its impact on women's athletics. But Engel said the law is also used to protect students from sexual harassment on campus.

"What's going on is a clear message we believe from the school to its students," Engel said. "Don't bring this up, don't mention it, don't complain about sexual harassment from faculty members or bad things will happen to you."

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Jason Cissell, a spokesman for Bellarmine, said the university could not comment due to litigation. Cissell did say the professor named in the lawsuit, "no longer works at Bellarmine University."

WAVE 3 News was unable to contact the professor.

Josh Engel said the student wants his record cleared in hopes of being accepted into medical school. In addition, he will be asking for a million dollars in damages to the student's future career.

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