Ana Kono has filed a lawsuit against the University of Miami, claiming they didn’t protect her against sexual harassment from her doctoral advisor, marketing professor, Juliano Laran.
Kono moved across the country to pursue a Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Miami in 2014. She said that Laran repeatedly sexually harassed her and threatened that “he would make sure [her] career would be over before it even began” if she switched to another adviser. Kono added that he made her uncomfortable by telling sexually fraught stories in front of her and other students and calling her a boring mom.
“He recounted in graphic detail a night when he found himself at a stranger’s home and witnessed a couple, after getting high from cocaine, having sexual intercourse in front of him with the intention that he watch,” the lawsuit said.
Kono felt even more uncomfortable when he asked her to “share her wild stories” and told her that she must have some because of her age and Brazilian heritage.
She said she was eventually forced to leave the university because Laran prevented her from finishing her dissertation and the university stood behind him.
“I honestly believe he gets a thrill out of minimizing other people, especially women because he believes that women are inferior to men,” Kono said.
The university’s attorney, Eric Isicoff, said that Kono wasn’t able to complete her doctoral degree at the university for a legitimate reason. “She was dismissed because of her academic performance,” Isicoff told the Miami Herald. “The university stands behind that decision.”
Laran’s attorney, Christopher Brown, said that the accusations in Kono’s lawsuit aren’t true.
“Ms. Kono left the marketing Ph.D. program at the University of Miami because, unfortunately, she proved to be a poor academic,” Brown said. “She was unable to satisfy the requirements for successful completion of a Ph.D. program, including coming up with good research ideas and forming a dissertation committee.”
Kono’s attorney, Donald Hayden, said the university put their reputation above everything else.
“The University of Miami, as they like to say, is ‘all about the U,’ and building their reputation and building the reputation of their marketing department through a professor who was quite prolific,” Hayden said in an interview. “Unfortunately, they emphasized this over ensuring a safe and thriving educational environment for their students.”