A second Ohio University Title IX investigation has substantiated a student’s claims of sexual harassment against an OU journalism professor, and the student is now speaking out about the difficulties people have in coming forward about sexual harassment.
A copy of an OU Title IX investigation’s memorandum of findings issued last week (provided by an anonymous source within the Scripps College of Communication) found through a preponderance of evidence standard that currently suspended journalism professor Yusuf Kalyango had sexually harassed OU journalism student Lindsay Boyle (who graduated in 2013) while she worked on a program he supervised back in 2011-2012.
The university already has substantiated another student’s claims of sexual harassment against Kalyango in a separate case while she was working in a program supervised by him in 2017 (when she was a graduate student).
So far, a university professional ethics committee convened in 2018 for the purpose of considering discipline against the professor has recommended that Kalyango face detenuring and dismissal in that first case, and OU Provost Chaden Djalali has agreed with that recommendation.
Kalyango appealed that decision by Djalali to OU President Duane Nellis, and Nellis denied that appeal. Now it's up to OU's journalism school to determine the next step for disciplinary measures Kalyango could face on the first Title IX report's finding. However, that entire process likely will need to be repeated now that a new Title IX report (completed by OU’s Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance) has found Boyle’s claims to be credible.
Kalyango has denied any wrongdoing in both of these cases. In the first case, the alleged student victim – graduate student Tess Herman – has filed a lawsuit against Kalyango and OU alleging that her civil rights were violated.
Kalyango filed a cross-claim alleging that OU’s Title IX investigation process is flawed and was biased against him.
In the newest Title IX investigation completed, ECRC Investigator G. Antonio Anaya found credible Boyle’s claims that Kalyango put her in a position during a trip to Zambia where she was up against a wall, and he tried to kiss her and “make out with her.” That was during a study-abroad course in Zambia in 2011 that Boyle was enrolled in. Another incident during that trip included Kalyango allegedly inviting her into his hotel room to dance with her, alone. Multiple other witnesses corroborated that Kalyango appeared to dote on Boyle, and some corroborated Boyle contemporaneously disclosing that these incidents happened.
Kalyango disputed those allegations and said that he was nothing but professional in his interactions with Boyle, and also said that he would not have pursued her because he knew she was “gay,” although Boyle told the investigator she was not openly gay and “out” at that point. (Full disclosure: Boyle worked as a freelance reporter for The Athens NEWS while an undergraduate at OU.)
Another incident allegedly occurred in 2011 or 2012, according to the report, when Kalyango invited Boyle to Santiago, Chile, and he allegedly told Boyle that the only way the university would pay for the cost of her hotel room was if they stayed together, a claim that Anaya said was substantiated by emails and other records provided by Boyle (she never attended the trip).
Meanwhile, another incident allegedly occurred in Washington D.C. in 2012, in which Anaya found Boyle’s claims credible, that she and Kalyango went to D.C. for an administrative meeting, and that Kalyango had booked a suite room for the two of them without telling her. She also reported that Kalyango had came into her bedroom, sat on her bed, and leaned over and put his arm on her (she asked him to leave and he did). Kalyango said he did not travel to D.C. with Boyle, but she produced multiple pieces of evidence showing that she was in D.C., including at the hotel in question.
One important piece of information is that Anaya found that Boyle, when allegations around this alleged misconduct surfaced in 2012 and were investigated by the ECRC office, had denied those allegations at the time. She did not come forward to the ECRC office until last year, saying that she had lied in 2012 because she had several important career opportunities that would not have happened without her work under programs directed by Kalyango.
Kalyango said that the 2012 investigation by the Title IX office cleared him of any wrongdoing in this case.
“…The investigator, Mr. George Anaya, violated every policy and procedure in place to resurrect a closed 7-year old investigation, and to reach findings that are contradicted by the evidence he collected and that are also both discriminatory and retaliatory in nature,” Kalyango said. “He knows that on April 30, 2019, he was named a defendant in the cross-claim counter-lawsuit that I filed against the university.”
BOYLE IN AN INTERVIEW this week said she wanted to come forward with her name on the record for this story because so many people, women in particular, experience sexual harassment but are unable to talk about it because of the social stigma around that crime.
She said she had no idea that the other investigation into Herman’s allegations against Kalyango was taking place at the time that she came forward last year. That case alleges similar misconduct on Kalyango’s part, with Kalyango allegedly attempting to get Herman to share a hotel room with him during an academic trip in Africa.
Boyle said that she came forward at a time when the #MeToo movement was growing in strength, with women and others coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men across the country.
She admitted that she did lie in 2012 about the extent and breadth of Kalyango’s alleged harassment of her because, she said, she needed the job opportunities she had under his programs.
She also said that there were no public examples of OU professors being held accountable for sexual misconduct at the time in 2012.
“I wasn’t sold that anything would happen if I came forward other than me not getting a job that could potentially launch me into my professional career, and did, quite frankly,” she said.
She said that the Zambia program was cited each time when she was hired for two major journalism jobs in recent years.
Boyle added that when she has told people about what happened to her in Zambia and beyond, people typically say something along the lines of, “wow, I can’t believe that happened to you; you’re this strong person, I can’t believe it.”
“I’m frustrated that the first reaction is, ‘I can’t believe it happened,’” Boyle said. “These statistics are yelling at us. You know multiple people that this (sexual harassment) has happened to, I guarantee it. I think the conversation needs to change so that instead of the reaction being, ‘wow, I can’t believe it’… your reaction becomes, ‘why is this happening to so many people?’”
She added that she believes OU’s Title IX process is far too daunting of a process for most survivors of sexual violence or harassment. It’s been roughly a year and four months since she reported the incidents to a mandated reporter, she said.
Boyle said that she was thankful for Anaya’s “professional” work, but the process involves multiple interviews, the need for evidence to be presented, rebutted and re-presented, and a lot of legwork on the complainant’s part.
“For some people, what happens to them is completely life changing, it completely derails them and causes them to go into serious depression… Some people really aren’t going to be (able to do) this process,” she said.