sexual harassment case

Barry M. Dank (
Tue, 10 Mar 1998 13:16:24 -0800 (PST)

All You Have to Do Is Go Out and Prove Your Innocence
Professor Seeks Justice After 3 1/2 Years

The current practice of sexual harrassment litigation creates
absurd situations that destroy careers and cause significant
harm to employer, accused, and claimant alike. In this respect,
the case of Professor Leroy Young, which is scheduled to go to
trial shortly in Concord, NH is a case of national
significance that illustrates the untenable situation created by
the current wave of sexual harrassment litigation.

In March 1994, Young, a tenured Professor of Art at Plymouth
State College (PSC) of the University System of New Hampshire
was dismissed by first year President of the college, Donald
Wharton. His dismissal was based on unproven accusations of
sexual harassment made by a student, Tracy
Schneider. Ms. Schneider had graduated from PSC the previous
year and had passed the time limitation set forth by the college
for any complaint.

Formal charges were never filed against Professor Young by the
college and he was not afforded a hearing before a panel of his
peers prior to dismissal. This was done in violation of the PSC
Faculty Handbook which serves as a contractual agreement in most
university systems. In three meetings with the president and
university counsel, Ron Rodgers, Professor Young was not shown
any evidence of impropriety on his part and was told that he
would not be told the witnesses for Ms. Schneider. Professor
Young submitted to a polygraph test conducted by an expert and
the results confirmed his story. Nevertheless, the president
subsequently held a press conference and announced that
Professor Young was being dismissed because of moral delinquency
of a grave order, neglect of duty, and lying.

Having lost his source of income, Professor Young filed for
unemployment with the state. Although the request was initially
denied, a subsequent hearing at the State of New Hampshire
Unemployment Appeal Tribunal found that the employer had
provided no credible evidence to support its position, that the
claimant had been discharged for other than cause, that there
had been no supporting evidence for the dismissal, and that the
University conduct had been reprehensible.

Professor Young followed the university system and Plymouth
State College guidelines for a hearing and the Faculty Committee
chaired by Professor A. Datta decided that a hearing was not a
part of the university policy because Ms. Schneider was no
longer a student and had not been a student when her complaint
was made. Again requesting some type of hearing, a Special
Faculty Hearing was eventually granted. This hearing occurred
fourteen months after Professor Young's firing. The faculty
committee chaired by Professor Herb Otto found that the
president had fired Professor Young without proper cause and had
libeled the professor in his press conference. The committee
also recommended that Professor Young be placed on paid leave of
absence pending his continuation in the appeal process.
Immediately after this, the president rehired Professor Young
and dismissed him again the following day.

Throughout this ordeal, Professor Young's wife of 32 years,
Tatum Young, has remained his strongest ally and supporter.

Ms. Schneider obtained new counsel in 1996, Chuck Douglas and
Suzanne Robinson, who continued a suit in state court on her
behalf suing the college for not firing the professor sooner.
Because the college had never investigated her allegations, it
had no evidence to dispute her claims of negligence. She was
awarded $115,000. The college's counsel, Mr. Joseph M. McDonough
of Devine, Millimet and Branch has filed an appeal on behalf of
the college. Professor Young was approached at one point and
asked if he would be open to appearing as a witness for the
college in this appeal.

Professor Young and his wife have filed suit in US District
Court in Concord, New Hampshire based on violation of his
Constitutional rights, lack of due process, wrongful dismissal
and defamation of character. The college requested non-binding
mediation and made an unacceptable monetary offer of $80,000.
Professor Young rejected the offer made because his main concern
is his good name, character, and ability to obtain employment.
He is also concerned that if one university system can dismiss a
tenured professor without due process, then other university
systems may follow suit for any arbitrary reason. Tenure and
academic freedom will no longer exist in the educational system
and lives and careers will continue to be destroyed.

Tatum P.and Leroy S. Young 153 Stradley Mtn. Rd. Asheville, NC 28806 hm:
704-665-7478 fx: 704-665-7413 email:

Statement from C. Alex Young,<>, son of Leroy
and Tatum Young.

My parents situation for the past many years has consumed them and come
close to consuming me. I remember it was the weekend before the first
day of my second year of grad school. Pop called me "You won't believe
what has happened." He told me about being called into the dean's office
and what he was confronted with. What seemed so shocking was not only
the allegations, but who had made them. I had always seen Jennifer Otten
as kind of grumpy and stubborn, but I still thought she got along well
with Pop, just as most of his students did. Then the details of some of
the charges, "he complimented her on a blazer she was wearing, said she
looked good." All I could think was this will clear up quickly, there
must be some sort of mistake. Then Rose Bente, who had just consoled
him, made claims the next day that he had also harassed her. I had
thought they had a friendly relationship. She and her daughter had been
to our house in the past. Most of all, there is or was no way that Pop
would ever harass a person. Much less sexual harassment. Besides Mom and
I would have known if something like that were going on, since we both
spent so much time at Pop's office. He had no interest in these girls.
He simply saw them as students and casual acquaintances.

It became pretty difficult to get all of this out of my mind so that I
could enjoy and do well in Grad school. It was also hard to listen to
people write or comment about the case. It was like listening to gossip
float around a room and return to you completely different. I heard
people say he must be guilty, there were rumors of him assaulting women,
etc. I made me sick to my stomach to know people were saying these lies
about Pop and Mom. Plus half the stuff was far worse than anything he
had been accused of. The clincher was Tracy Schneider.

Tracy Schneider, my mother, and my father all had a friendly
relationship. I was also an acquaintance of Tracy's because I spent a
year living with my parents and working in the area. My parents were
very kind to her. My father helped her improve her skills and talents as
an artist. He also gave her and the rest of the senior thesis class
(male and female) a second chance on their senior projects when the rest
of the faculty (male and female) said the graphic design seniors should
not pass to the final semester. My parents (not just my father) lent
her money when she could not pay tuition to finish her last year of
school. My mother also sent her flowers when her father died. Tracy is
the one who betrayed my parent's trust and friendship. During all this
time, she was supposedly being preyed upon and was in fear of my dad,
however, she still came to parties he held for friends, faculty and
students. At two of these parties, one of which was held for me, she was
quite happy and social with everyone. I have pictures of her smiling and
laughing. I don't know why she made these accusations.I have asked some
female friends, including my fiancee, if women could be mean (just to
make sure I was not misinformed). All of their answers told me that just
like some men, some women could be quite vicious and manipulative to
both other women and also to men. The president, and other members of
the college, chose to believe her and not my father, without an
investigation. He was fired without a hearing and was called a liar and
a "lecherous man".

Not a single administrator has listened to my parents. Pop has had
countless people give personal, as well as, professional praise to him.
Letters have been sent to the president by previous employers. These
have been ignored. Pop has been a great teacher and also a friend to
many of his students over the years. I have seen this first hand through
all of my years. Many of his students have even come to be friends with
me. I cannot begin to understand how this case could ever get this far.
The administrators have not only insulted my parents integrity and good
name, but they have also insulted all those who have spoken on their
behalf. They essentially believed Tracy's word over my parents, deans of
other schools, teachers and community members. Her word is so pure that
they don't even have to listen to anything else. This is arrogance at
its highest! The school awarded Pop tenure which he had EARNED through
hard work and with recommendations from respected persons. However, the
school has not even looked at their own decisions for guidance. These
people are not only arrogant, they are stupid! What seems to have
slipped by many of the faculty observing this case is that their tenure
means nothing. All it takes is one person, a little spitefulness, and a
few well placed lies, and lives can be ruined.

This press release has been forwarded to you by the Foundation for the
Advancement of Sexual Equity (FASE). See the accompanying e-mail
for information on FASE or e-mail