CSU calls for investigation into Chancellor’s handling of sex abuse claims
California State University board chair will ask the board to launch an independent investigation into Chancellor Joseph I. Castro’s handling of allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace bullying when he was president of Fresno State amid growing demands from the state’s two top higher education legislative leaders. and others to examine its role in handling complaints that spanned a six-year period.
President Lillian Kimbell said in a statement late Friday that Castro was receptive and wanted an investigation. “I intend to ask my board colleagues in the coming days to support these measures, as I know it will help us improve practices and policies for the future,” Kimbell said.
Kimbell’s decision comes after Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who chairs the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), chair of the committee of Education of the California Senate, and the Cal State Faculty Assn., the union representing 29,000 employees, called on the board to review Castro’s handling of an academic investigation into the former vice president of the Fresno State Student Affairs, Frank Lamas.
The investigation found ‘credible evidence’ that Lamas engaged in sexual misconduct against an employee, who filed a formal complaint in 2019 that the administrator touched her knee and raised a hand on her thigh while talking about his future job prospects after two years of absence. contact.
While still president of Fresno State in 2020, Castro authorized a quiet payment of $260,000 and a retirement package and provided Lamas with a glowing letter of recommendation. Several weeks after approving the deal, Castro was named chancellor of the nation’s largest public four-year university system.
Castro said in a statement Friday evening that he supported Kimbell.
“I support an independent investigation. Although I followed CSU policy and took steps to ensure that this individual could never work on a CSU campus, I recognize that some aspects of the process should have been better managed – this is especially true of the harm caused by my communications with the community during that time,” he said. “I expect an independent investigation to help me not only in my growth as a leader, but also strengthens the work of the entire Cal State system.”
Castro was unavailable for comment Saturday and his office had no further comment.
Medina said “it is imperative that we determine the accuracy of the allegations and ensure that our higher education leaders truly put the safety of students, faculty and staff first.”
Leyva said that if an investigation finds Castro mishandled the misconduct allegations, Castro should “immediately resign from his position as it would clearly call into question his ability to lead the California State University system and its thousands of employees”. Based on the findings of an investigation, Leyva would also convene a Senate Education Committee to further examine Castro’s handling of the allegations in Fresno State.
A USA Today report earlier this week outlined allegations against Lamas spanning six years.
Allegations against Lamas regarding workplace bullying and harassment were shared with the Fresno State Department of Human Resources and Title IX Office beginning in 2014, according to academic documents. Investigative steps were taken in 2019 when a formal Title IX physical harassment complaint was filed.
On Saturday, a student-led “Me Too” protest in Fresno State was planned.
In an interview with The Times on Thursday, Castro said he followed California state policy in negotiating Lamas’ severance deal. Castro said he regretted writing the letter of recommendation, which praised Lamas’ work performance.
Early complaints against Lamas were either anonymous or the person who came forward didn’t want to pursue the investigation, Fresno State Vice President of Administration and Finance Deborah Adishian-Astone told The Times. If an allegation of physical contact had taken place, however, an investigation would have been launched sooner, with or without and identified accuser.
Lamas has denied any wrongdoing during his six years in Fresno State.
Castro did not inform the board of directors of the investigation and settlement before becoming chancellor. He said the council was generally unaware of such investigations and that because he had consulted with then Chancellor Timothy White, White was expected to share those details if he did. deemed appropriate.
Castro told The Times he plans to work with the board to improve the university’s policies, pledging to make them more transparent.
“I will work with our board and our presidents to review this and make the appropriate adjustments,” he said.