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University of South Carolina Announces Steps to Address Sexual Harassment and Assault Cases

University of South Carolina Announces Steps to Address Sexual Harassment and Assault CasesUniversity of South Carolina President Bob Caslen recently announced steps to better handle sexual assault and harassment claims on campus. His announcement comes just days after a newspaper report detailed accounts from 10 women claiming that the school failed to appropriately respond to their allegations of sexual assault and abuse.

An investigation published March 12 in The State outlined a wide array of sexual assault and harassment complaints and allegations – with the vast majority of the claims against USC faculty and staff – noting that “between Nov. 30, 2019, and Nov. 30, 2020, USC had 107 Title IX complaints involving harassment or assault.”

Among the many cases of assault and harassment outlined in The State’s investigative report (including one where a USC employee became pregnant by her superior, who then coerced her into having an abortion), is that of art professor David Voros. A group called the “Coalition to Fire David Voros” delivered a letter in-person to USC President Bob Caslen in early March, reminding him that they are still waiting for the university to hold itself accountable for creating an environment rife for sexual harassment and assault.

“You must listen to survivors of abuse and act on those allegations,” the letter said. “David Voros and those like him have no place at the University of South Carolina and we call on you to advocate for his immediate removal and support an overhaul of EOP.”

There are currently two lawsuits against David Voros and the University of South Carolina. Upon these filings in December 2020, it came to light that USC had settled another similar lawsuit a year previously, establishing a pattern of behavior that was never addressed. And, although Voros has since been removed from the classroom, as a tenured professor, he continues to collect a sizable salary.

The letter further reads, “This action does not address the fundamental problems at the School of Visual Arts and Design or the University of South Carolina. The silence from your administration in the intervening months since his reassignment has been deafening.”

USC President Caslen responds

Two days after The State’s report, President Bob Caslen appeared to address the article when he sent the following email to USC students:

“The health, safety and welfare of our people is our top priority, and we unequivocally condemn all instances of sexual assault and harassment and interpersonal violence. I care deeply about this issue and hear your concerns. This type of behavior is inconsistent with our values as a university, and it is important that as an institution, we create a culture that is counter to these behaviors and that we continually improve the processes necessary to ensure these behaviors are identified and quickly stopped.”

He then outlined some immediate next steps regarding how the university will handle sexual assault and harassment cases going forward. Key points of USC’s plan include:

  • Continue the Title IX Interpersonal Violence (IPV) Workgroup
  • Establish an independent Title IX Coordinator for the University
  • Establish, change and implement a sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence comprehensive review
  • Establish a Case Review Committee
  • Review the appeals process for EOP investigations

At McGowan, Hood, & Felder, LLC, we represent survivors of sexual harassment and assault both on- and off-campus. Our attorneys provide compassionate, confident, and experienced legal advocacy. To schedule a free consultation with one of our South Carolina attorneys, call 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page. If you prefer speaking with a female attorney, just let us know and we’ll arrange it for you.