Ohio University Interim President David Descutner last week sent a letter to OU English professor Andrew Escobedo informing him of the university’s grounds for firing him.
This is one of the final steps in the university’s ongoing dismissal process for Escobedo, who was found through a university Title IX investigation, more likely than not, to have a history of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment targeting students.
“The grounds for dismissal are that for an extended period of years you have engaged in a pattern of sexual advances directed at students whom you have supervised, graded or advised, as well as at colleagues in your department,” Descutner wrote.
The next step is for Escobedo to respond to Descutner’s letter before April 3, telling Descutner whether he wants to take part in a hearing before a faculty committee convened to determine whether he should be fired or not.
Escobedo was found in a university Title IX investigation last December, through a “preponderance of evidence,” to have sexually touched two graduate students without their consent multiple times, as well as to have sexually harassed those women, along with harassing two other students in incidents in 2003 and 2005. These are not criminal charges, and Escobedo has not been charged criminally, although a Chicago civil-rights lawyer has said he intends to file a civil lawsuit against Escobedo and the university, among others, on behalf of the two graduate students mentioned above.
Escobedo has in part denied the charges against him, although he has admitted culpability for some of his misconduct, and asked for a more lenient punishment that doesn’t involve being fired.
Prior to Descutner’s letter, OU’s Provost and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences both recommended that the university consider firing the tenured professor, through letters provided to The NEWS.
“I find that Dr. Escobedo’s conduct violates the most basic relationship between faculty and student and erodes the foundation of trust upon which this academy depends,” OU Provost Pam Benoit wrote in her letter.
The hearing that Escobedo could ask for would happen before senior members of OU’s Faculty Senate and the president of that body. That faculty committee would make its recommendation for firing or keeping Escobedo based on the grounds for dismissal as set out by Descutner, and the recommendation would be voted on by the OU Board of Trustees.
Escobedo continues to be on paid administrative leave, as he has been since late March 2016 when the graduate students’ allegations were reported to the university. His base salary was about $87,000 in 2016.
OU’s Graduate Senate has approved a resolution asking the university to terminate Escobedo’s employment, and a protest pressuring the university to do the same happened outside of Ellis Hall in late February.