Fordham University and professor accused of sexual harassment hit with several lawsuits

Three lawsuits are pending against Fordham University and Professor Richard Atkinson, who allegedly groped a graduate student and his mother, in addition to two complaints of groping by another graduate student — all three alleging sexual harassment at the hands of Atkinson, who was a professor at the school from 2009 to 2016.

The suits, filed in Nassau County, allege that the attacks occurred during classes Atkinson taught between 2010 and 2015, at the request of the victim. The lawsuits are reportedly seeking unspecified damages for sexual battery, harassment, stalking, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The specific sex of the alleged victims is not disclosed in the lawsuits.

Richard Atkinson initially wrote on Facebook in April that he would not pursue his tenure at Fordham in order to comply with an investigation, according to The New York Times. The allegations against him have now come to light as he has been served with lawsuits.

Atkinson’s defense has come in the form of a lawsuit of his own, which accuses one of the women accusing him of harassment of defaming him and hurting his reputation by publishing her allegations in The New York Times in July. “He needs to have his reputation destroyed,” said Mr. Atkinson’s lawyer, Ira Sorkin. “There is no question in our minds that there is a fine line between defamation and hard news.” The suit demands that the accuser and her lawyer return the money they received from the Times to be paid to Mr. Atkinson by the school in 2017. “I was shocked and disappointed, and wanted to contact both universities and say that the Times story was unjust,” the woman said in an affidavit.

According to the Times, two other women have come forward to discuss the harassment allegations against Atkinson.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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