Amid a growing number of allegations that he mishandled complaints involving sexual harassment, California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro announced on February 17, 2022, that he would be resigning from his position.
The announcement came as the CSU Board of Trustees convened a closed-door meeting to determine whether the accusations naming Castro should be investigated. In his official statement, Castro maintains his innocence but says he is resigning “so that the CSU can maintain its focus squarely on its educational mission and the impactful work yet to be done.”
Why Castro Is Under Fire
The allegations that Castro mishandled a dozen sexual harassment, bullying, and retaliation complaints came to light after a six-month investigation by USA Today into Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Lamas. Lamas was the subject of a Title IX investigation after having been accused by a graduate student of making inappropriate sexual comments, initiating non-consensual sexual contact, and promising a promotion in exchange for sexual favors.
Shortly before being named as Chancellor, Castro—then President of Fresno State University—signed a settlement with Lamas, granting him a clean record and letter of recommendation in exchange for his resignation. He also authorized a $260,000 payment to Lamas, despite knowing of at least seven discrete complaints against the vice presidents and despite the findings of an independent law firm that Lamas was culpable in creating “a culture of fear” at the university.
The Potential Danger of Title IX
Title IX issues can be complex, complicated, and difficult to disentangle. While the law, first enacted in 1972, has been instrumental in preventing or punishing discrimination based on gender, it also provides an avenue by which some unscrupulous people enact revenge or sabotage on another individual, often someone in a position of authority.
In extreme instances, false allegations of sexual harassment can lead to persecution that amounts to a witch hunt. It can be difficult to come back from being unfairly accused of inappropriate behavior. Further complicating matters is the fact that Title IX's reach and impact are variously strengthened or weakened depending on the political climate. Pundits claim that during the Obama Administration, Title IX favored the victim, while Trump’s influence on the law bolstered the rights of abusers.
It Could Happen to Anyone
The cases of both Lamas and Castro are highly visible and subject to a great deal of public attention, but it's not necessary for an alleged Title IX violation to be so high-profile. Anyone at an institute of higher learning, from a student or a part-time adjunct instructor to a full tenured professor, a department head, or a dean, to those occupying the top tier of university administrations, can find themselves in the spotlight of a Title IX investigation.
When that happens, it's imperative for the accused to contact an attorney with extensive experience in this specialty, such as Joseph D. Lento. This level of legal expertise provides the best possible defense against damaging accusations and can mean the difference between a ruined career and one that continues apace for years to come.
Give the Lento Law Firm a call at 888-533683 or schedule a consultation here. We'll listen to your case, answer your questions, and get the ball rolling on a robust Title IX defense.