A graduate student at USC came forward Thursday with claims of sexual harassment from a professor overseeing her dissertation at the university's School of Social Work. Karissa Fenwick, 34, sued the university Wednesday saying in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that the professor propositioned her sexually and the university was more interested in covering up the harassment rather than protecting her.
The accused professor is Erick Guerro and Fenwick even alleges he threatened her against speaking out about. Fenwick told reporters from her attorney's office Thursday the university was "prioritizing keeping things quiet and protecting him (and not) protecting me and other students." She went on to say, "I don't feel very strong. It's just that every time I think about (it), I think about this is happening to somebody else, and that's what makes me feel like I have to say something. The university claims they "took the complaint of sexual harassment very seriously. The university is reviewing the recent legal filing to determine if additional action is warranted." The university conducted a five-month long investigation after which he was fined, barred from leadership positions and from contact with students but was not fired.
Kenwick says Guerro "told me that if I ever told anybody about what happened that it would ruin both of our careers and he would take down anybody that I told, and that the dean would never take my side or let anything happen to him. I was terrified because he controlled not only my dissertation, but my ability to graduate and my reputation in the field I wanted to get a job in."
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