Former student sues KSU, alleges Director of Admissions sexually harassed him

A lawsuit filed Thursday makes disturbing allegations against the school.
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Updated: Nov. 1, 2018 at 9:14 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A former student is suing Kentucky State University, alleging the school did very little to stop sexual harassment by the Director of Admissions after multiple complaints.

Documents filed Thursday by a former student at KSU listed as John Doe name KSU, KSU President Dr. M. Christopher Brown, KSU Title IX Coordinator Brandon Williams and KSU Director of Admissions Justin Mathis as defendants in a lawsuit that makes disturbing allegations against the school.

The student alleges the harassment began with online messages from someone claiming to be a KSU professor. The student asked the professor to stop contacting him, but the messages continued.

The student said he reported the incident via letter to administration, where he was promised the professor would no longer contact him.

The next alleged incident involves a student recruitment trip to Washington, D.C. in September of 2017, where the lawsuit claims Mathis attempted to force the student to share a room with him and sexually harassed him repeatedly.

The student claimed he was told he would have his own room on the trip, but upon arrival was told his room was canceled and he had to room with Mathis, the Director of Admissions at KSU.

The former student said Mathis made multiple comments to him that were sexual in nature throughout that night and into the next morning. The lawsuit also claims Mathis refused to book an additional room for the student until Mathis was sent a text message by another student telling him to get another room or they would report him.

The sexual harassment was reported to the Admissions Administrative Assistant after the trip by the student who filed the lawsuit.

But Mathis continued sending the student messages that were sexual in nature, the lawsuit says.

At this point, the documents allege the student’s mother contacted KSU President Brown on Feb. 27, 2018 to ask if they were going to address the sexual harassment.

The lawsuit then says the school did not investigate anything until March 1, and that the investigation was only in relation to the online messages from the professor--not in regards to Mathis.

As a result, the lawsuit says, the student suffered socially and academically, eventually leaving school, causing him to experience a loss of educational opportunities. KSU’s process in handling the student’s case, the lawsuit alleges, “can be described as anything but prompt and equitable.”

The lawsuit seeks damages related to expenses caused by the alleged harassment, as well as injunctive relief requiring KSU to comply with federal law under Title IX, which establishes schools' responsibilities regarding complaints of sexual harassment by students.

KSU commented on the pending litigation Friday, stating that the safety and care of students is a top priority at the school, and that the University acted quickly to investigate, resulting in “appropriate actions.”

The full text of KSU’s statement is below:

"The safety and care of our students is a top priority at Kentucky State University. All allegations from students, faculty and staff are taken seriously from their initial report. In the pending litigation, the University moved swiftly to investigate upon initial notification, resulting in appropriate actions.Kentucky State University remains steadfast in its commitment to advancing our mission.

Kentucky State University is a public, comprehensive, historically black land-grant university committed to advancing the Commonwealth of Kentucky, enhancing society, and impacting individuals by providing quality teaching with a foundation in liberal studies, scholarly research and public service to enable productive lives within the diverse global economy."

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