A student has filed a lawsuit against Morehouse College, alleging that the administrators didn’t address his sexual harassment complaints against an associate professor.
According to the lawsuit, the sexual harassment began during a study-abroad trip to Brazil in May 2015. The student said professor Robert Peterson ordered him alcoholic drinks on the flight and touched his genitals. The lawsuit also alleges that Peterson ordered alcoholic beverages for other underage students at a pool party during the trip and sent sexually explicit photos to them.
“Peterson was known as a professor that exchanged good grades for sex,” the lawsuit says.
A faculty member informed a department chair about the incident, but it was never sent to the office that deals with complaints like that. The student claimed he set a formal complaint in December 2017, but the school said it never received it. He sent in another complaint in January.
Peterson was put on administrative leave and now no longer teaches at Morehouse College. He has continuously denied the allegations against him.
The student said his grades started to suffer and he left the school in the fall of 2017. When he tried to return at the beginning of this semester, administrators did little to help him. He is asking for unspecified monetary and punitive damages from the lawsuit.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a professor has been accused of sexual harassment. Since August, Vanderbilt University professor David Sweatt has been on leave as the university investigates sexual assault claims made by a student.
Sweatt allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted a student at a conference in 2015. The school found out about the accusations in 2017, but said there wasn’t enough evidence for action at the time. In August 2018, the university was provided with additional information about the alleged assault that warranted an official investigation.