Andrew Escobedo, an Ohio University English professor whom the university initiated dismissal proceedings against earlier this year, is no longer with the university.
Escobedo’s resignation went into effect on Nov. 1. Through a university Title IX investigation, the university found through a preponderance of evidence standard that, more likely than not, Escobedo had sexually touched two graduate students without their consent multiple times during an end-of-semester party in 2015.
The university’s Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance investigation (which completed late last year) also found that Escobedo, through a preponderance-of-evidence standard, had sexually harassed those two women, along with sexually harassing two other students in similar incidents in 2003 and 2005.
Escobedo had been on paid administrative leave from the university since March 2016, when the university began that investigation. He earned his roughly $86,000 a year base salary until Oct. 31, even though he wasn’t working, an OU spokesperson previously confirmed.
Escobedo announced his resignation in late August, just two weeks before he was scheduled to appear at a hearing before senior members of OU Faculty Senate to argue why he should not be fired. That committee then would have provided a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on whether should be terminated for sexual misconduct.
OU found two complaints against Escobedo to be unsubstantiated in the ECRC investigation, pending the university receiving any further evidence. Since he’s not facing any criminal charges to date, Escobedo leaving prior to being fired for his alleged sexual misconduct could mean he feels this gives him a better chance of finding a job at another university.
In a statement sent to The NEWS after announcing his resignation, Escobedo maintained his innocence.
“... the findings of the University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance office were fundamentally flawed, and (a) professor’s reputation and livelihood should not be ruined because of misrepresentations and mean-spirited accusations based on rumor and gossip,” Escobedo wrote via email. “Ohio University’s administration made it clear to me and my lawyers that they planned to fire me no matter what the faculty hearing determined. Thus, I believe that my resignation is in the best interest of my family and my finances at this time, and that continuing to fight what appears to be a foregone conclusion is not.”
OU President Duane Nellis released a statement at the time of Escobedo’s announced resignation reaffirming the university’s “commitment to protect the safety and well-being” of students, faculty, and staff.
“Brave women and other people in our community stepped forward to bring intolerable behavior to light,” Nellis said. “The healing process I envision is not one that will dim this light but rather intensify our efforts to ensure our community is a safe place to learn and work.”
Escobedo and the university, as well as the former chair of the English Department (who is also the chair of Faculty Senate), are currently named in a civil-rights lawsuit filed by the two graduate students mentioned above, alleging Escobedo sexually touched them without their consent, and that the university had been “deliberately indifferent” to past signs of his sexual misconduct. Back-and-forth filings in that case, including motions to dismiss the lawsuit by the university and Escobedo (Escobedo and the university are being represented by separate legal counsel), have occurred in recent months. Both Escobedo and the defendants have requested a jury trial, but a date has not yet been set.
In June, The NEWS asked Benjamin Bates, outgoing chair of OU Faculty Senate’s promotion and tenure committee, about the de-tenuring process the university used for Escobedo. He noted that it seems rare for the university to get as far in the process as it did on this occasion; the last time OU dismissed a tenured professor, to his knowledge, was in the 1990s.