Sexual Harassment Cases at UGa Now Processed Better; Office of Legal Affairs Began Enforcing Rules about 10 Years Ago

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE SHEARER

ATHENS - University of Georgia officials say the school does a better job of enforcing sexual harassment policies since the Office of Legal Affairs took over the responsibility 10 years ago.

But one UGa professor got by with just a slap on the wrist despite numerous complaints from students that he touched them in a sexual way. The professor received serious discipline only after a fourth woman - a faculty member - charged him with sexual harassment.

The final two complaints about anthropology professor Ben Blount came after legal affairs took over sexual harassment enforcement at the university.

Blount was allowed to resign in 2004 rather than face disciplinary proceedings after a woman professor in the anthropology department complained to legal affairs that Blount made persistent sexual advances toward her, according to records released under an open records request from the Athens Banner-Herald.

But Blount received no more than a stern letter of reprimand and an order to watch a videotape about sexual harassment when officials received three complaints from students that Blount harassed them - in 1991, 1996 and finally in 2003, just months before the woman anthropology professor filed her complaint.

After the final investigation, Blount sent a resignation letter to UGa.

Blount's record echoes that of William Bender, a College of Education professor who UGa officials allowed to continue teaching online classes this semester, even though he resigned in September rather than face disciplinary proceedings for violating the university's nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy. …

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