Fil-Am student sues prof over alleged sexual harassment
A Filipino-American graduate student from UC Berkeley has sued a faculty member over alleged sexual harassment on her and a fellow graduate student, reports said.
A report on BBC said Kathleen Gutierrez, together with Erin Bennet, filed a complaint against Blake Wentworth for allegedly touching and making inappropriate sexual comments on them in 2014 and 2015.
Gutierrez and Bennett took their case to the Californa Department of Fair Employment and Housing after their campus allegedly failed to take action against Wentworth, an assistant professor of South and Southeast Asian studies.
In Gutierrez's complaint against UC Berkley and Wentworth, she said she "has been subjected to an oppressive, hostile, intimidating, and offensive work environment" since the beginning of her employment in the fall semester of 2014 as a graduate student instructor (GSI).
According to Gutierrez, Wentworth used to frequent the GSI office despite the space being intended for GSIs and undergraduate students, and often made "inappropriate statements of a sexual nature" to its occupants.
Gutierrez said on February 17, 2015, Wentworth asked her to walk his dog with him. While walking, he allegedly talked about his recent divorce and trips to a strip club where he supposedly did drugs off a dancer's body.
Gutierrez said Wentworth then held her hand and said, "I could lose my job over this... I would tell you, but I'm just so attracted to you." She said he then invited her to dinner.
In another incident, according to Gutierrez, Wentworth made lewd advances at her and implied that intimate student-teacher relationships were acceptable in his former workplaces.
She was then told that he "could be a strong ally in the department and that he could assist her with fellowships."
Upon receiving her complaint, uC Berkeley's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) conducted an investigation and concluded on October 2, 2015 that Wentworth indeed violated campus rules on sexual harassment.
However, the OPHD did not suspend or sanction the professor and told Gutierrez six months later that her case was still pending.
In a report on The Guardian, Gutierrrez said she felt unsafe in the campus working near Wentworth and had to suspend her studies because of this.
The BBC report said Wentworth was finally suspended and barred from entering the GSI on Monday.
If proven guilty, Wentworth will join 19 other UC Berkley professors and staff found guilty of violating university policies against sexual misconduct by the OPHD since 2011, according to the Daily Californian. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News
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