Wednesday, August 21

Former guest lecturer files misconduct suit


Wednesday, April 10, 1996

Chicana/o studies professor charges regents, Daily BruinBy Karen
Duryea

Daily Bruin Staff

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge today may determine whether
to allow a multi-million dollar case against the university and the
UCLA student media to go forward.

The first of the two hearings held today will decide if
sanctions will be levied against the plaintiff, Philip Garcia. In
the second hearing, the future of the case alleging misconduct on
the part of The University of California Regents will be
determined, based upon a motion to dismiss recently filed by
regents’ attorneys.

Garcia, a former visiting professor in the Chicana/o studies
department, was accused by several students of sexual misconduct in
1993. Garcia has denied all allegations.

The investigation into allegations against Garcia have now
lasted close to three years. In June of 1995, Garcia and his
attorneys filed a lawsuit against the University of California
Regents, the students’ association, the association’s
Communications Board and the Daily Bruin. His lawsuit alleges that
the university mishandled its investigation into the charges, and
that his privacy was violated and his name defamed.

However, none of the defendants was served with the lawsuit
until eight months after it was filed ­ a violation of court
procedure. Garcia and his attorneys are risking sanctions, which
could range from fines to throwing the case out of court, for their
failure to serve the defendants within the 60-day time limit.

The regents’ attorneys requested that the case be dismissed on
the grounds that Garcia had not exhausted all of his available
administrative remedies within the university, as required by law,
prior to bringing the case to court.

Roy Axelrod, one of the attorneys for the regents, declined to
comment on the case, explaining that it is not their policy to
comment on pending litigation.

Attorney Timothy Alger, who represents the student media and
students’ association defendants, has also asked the court to
dismiss the suit or impose money sanctions, claiming that Garcia
intentionally disobeyed the court rule requiring prompt service of
the complaint.

Alger argued that the delay was calculated by Garcia to make it
more difficult for students to defend themselves against the
lawsuit.

But according to John Younesi, Garcia’s attorney, they decided
to delay service in order to give UCLA administrators the chance to
resolve the matter out of court.

"I didn’t think we would get sanctioned," Younesi said "We were
trying to exhaust our administrative remedies, (and) at the same
time trying to adhere to the statute of limitations. When we
finally realized we could not, we decided to serve."

On April 3, Younesi filed a formal response to the regents’
motion to dismiss, stating that Garcia was justified in his suit
because the university was not cooperating in good faith with his
client.

"The administration wasn’t working with us," Younesi said.

During his one-quarter stint at UCLA, Garcia taught a course
during winter 1993 titled "The Chicano Image In Film," which he
examined the history and images of Chicanas/os in American cinema.
Ten students and at least one staff member in the Chicana/o studies
department filed complaints against Garcia early that year.

Because he was a visiting lecturer, Garcia was subject to a
different set of policies governing employment-related complaint
resolution, according to the Academic Personnel Manual.

Regents attorneys maintain that Garcia still had options
available within UCLA at the time he filed suit. In Garcia’s
response to the regents’ motion to dismiss the case, Younesi
claimed that Garcia has exhausted his options for complaint
resolution within the administration to the best of his
ability.

"(The university) wouldn’t let him proceed ­ I believe he
has attempted to exhaust everything that he could do," Younesi
said.

By the time Garcia filed suit, the university investigation had
already made its way to the Academic Senate Privilege and Tenure
Committee, the last stage of the three-step Academic Senate
complaint resolution process.

"(The university has) really prevented us from carrying out our
administrative remedies," Younesi said. "Something like this does
not take years to handle … someone has dropped the ball
here."

The investigation into the accusations against Garcia began in
early 1993. That June, Labor Relations Manager Sandra Rich sent a
letter to Garcia’s former students. The letter identified Garcia as
the target of the investigation and asked students to contact Labor
Relations if they recalled any incidents of misconduct on Garcia’s
part.

Garcia’s lawyers argued that his specific identification as the
subject of the investigation violated his confidentiality.

In November 1994, the university issued its formal complaint
against Garcia. His lawsuit claimed that he was falsely charged
with "leering, staring and physical touching" His lawsuit also
claimed that UCLA made no attempt to arrange mediation with
him.

Younesi claimed that the university is withholding important
information from Garcia, denying several requests concerning the
information and materials used in Rich’s investigation. Younesi
also argued that the regents are legally bound to share the
information that Garcia has repeatedly requested, such as the
identity of his accusers.

"Based on the policies and procedures,they are absolutely
required to share this information," Younesi said. "His substantive
and procedural due process rights have been violated."

Garcia’s amended complaint, which also names the Daily Bruin as
a defendant in the suit, claimed that a June 1994 article falsely
reported that he was being charged with sexual harassment offenses.
The article, the lawsuit claims, damaged his reputation within the
Chicana/o studies academic community.

Alger has filed a motion to strike on behalf of the student
media and students’ association defendants which asserts that
Garcia has no legal basis for any claim based on the Bruin article.
Alger’s motion to strike will be considered in a hearing set for
April 17.

"The Bruin article regarding the allegations against Garcia was
accurate and a publication protected by state law and the First
Amendment," Alger said.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.