A judge will decide whether a lawsuit alleging that an admissions director at Kentucky State University sexually harassed a former student will go forward.
A series of motions in the federal lawsuit, filed on the part of a “John Doe,” assert that claims against one of the defendants should be dismissed. The suit, filed in November, alleges that Doe suffered mental anguish because of sexual harassment that could have been prevented by a prompt response from KSU’s administration.
The lawsuit names KSU, President Dr. M. Christopher Brown, Coordinator Brandon Williams and Justin Mathis as defendants. It claims damages of at least $75,000 — the minimum amount required to file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
In recent weeks, Mathis filed a motion to dismiss portions of the lawsuit against himself, arguing that the one-year statute of limitations between the alleged incidents in September 2017 and the filing of the lawsuit on November 2018 had expired. On Monday, the plaintiff responded to the call for dismissal by saying that an agreement entered into by KSU’s attorney extended limitation periods for employees.
“Whether or not Justin Mathis was aware of the tolling agreement does not negate the fact that he can still be sued as he was an employee of the Defendant Kentucky State University during the dates at issue in this lawsuit,” the plaintiff wrote.
District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove has yet to enter a ruling on the motions.
According to the lawsuit, the former student had previously asked an unnamed KSU professor to stop contacting him online when he filed a first complaint on Sept. 8, 2017, by sending a letter to Brown.
Afterward, the former student went on a “new student recruitment trip” with Mathis, where the student allegedly endured sexual advances. That led to a complaint that went uninvestigated, according to the lawsuit, and to the student eventually leaving the university.
“It took … KSU over five months to finally investigate plaintiff’s initial complaint of sexual harassment,” the lawsuit states. “Throughout that time, plaintiff suffered by not having a contact order issued, pending the closure of a claim.”
Doe claims that the harassment caused him to suffer socially and academically, and the lack of response to his complaints caused him to experience a loss of educational opportunities.
The lawsuit alleges unreasonable response to a sexual harassment claim, a hostile educational environment, negligence, negligent hiring, and breach of contract. The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial.