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Incidents at Brown University

Total: 1

Incident 7251

Status: Resolved
Role: Faculty
Position: Visiting Professor
Discipline: Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Chemistry
Specific Discipline: Chemistry
Outcome Year: 1994
Outcome Category: No Longer Employed (includes Fired and Contract Non-renewal)
Quote: "On December 9, 1992, Wills sought out Adesogan in his office because she was having difficulty in the course.   During this encounter, while purporting to pray with Wills, Adesogan twice pulled Wills into his lap, allegedly put his hand under her shirt, rubbed her stomach and twice touched or rubbed her breasts.   The next day Wills met with Dean Karen Romer, who was then associate dean of academic affairs and had special responsibility for sexual assault or harassment claims;  on December 14, 1992, Wills filed a written complaint.   This incident lies at the core of Wills's subsequent suit against Brown and Adesogan.

In response to Wills's written complaint, Provost Frank Rothman and Dean of Faculty Bryan Shepp met with Wills on December 14, 1992, and then separately with Adesogan on December 15, 1992.   Adesogan admitted hugging Wills, drawing her onto his lap and touching her breast, although he denied placing his hand under Wills's shirt.   By letter dated December 23, 1992, Rothman placed Adesogan on probation, stating in a written reprimand that a further incident would be grounds for immediate dismissal but that this appeared to be Adesogan's first instance of improper behavior during his stay at Brown.

Rothman was mistaken.   In October 1992, Adesogan had inappropriately hugged and touched another student, Laura Schleussner, who was enrolled in his section and had come to meet with him for help.   Schleussner had then met with Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, a lecturer at Brown, who was acting as an ombudswoman for Brown to oversee sexual harassment services.   At trial, Schleussner and Tannenbaum gave somewhat different versions of the meeting, especially as to how much detail Schleussner provided.   It appears that Schleussner wanted to remain anonymous but did want something done to prevent repetitions.

Schleussner had also complained to a chemistry department lecturer whom she knew and trusted, and that lecturer spoke in due course with Lawler, who taught the other section of organic chemistry.   Lawler in turn told Adesogan that students would feel more comfortable if Adesogan kept his door open when conferring with students, but Lawler-who may have known few details-did not further advise the provost or anyone else in Brown's administration.

In February 1993, Rothman accepted the recommendation of the chemistry department that Adesogan be retained for another year and given a raise.   In September 1993, another student, Tilly Gurman, filed a complaint that Adesogan had sexually harassed her in the fall of 1992.   Romer informed Rothman, and Romer suggested no action because the Gurman incident had occurred before Adesogan had been reprimanded, and both Romer and Rothman believed that the warning to Adesogan in December 1992 had been sufficient.

In January 1994, another student, Amy Sanford, reported to Romer that between the fall of 1993 and January 1994, Adesogan had engaged in inappropriate conduct with Sanford (e.g., by repeated hugs and kisses), and Sanford told Romer that Adesogan had previously harassed another friend.   Romer reported the matter to her immediate superior but it was not carried further, apparently because Sanford had not wanted it officially pursued.

Wills, after her own experience with Adesogan in December 1992, had not sought any further contact with him.   She saw him thereafter on two different occasions:  first, on an unspecified date, Adesogan entered a drugstore where Wills was working, and Wills immediately retreated to a back room;  second, in January 1994, Wills enrolled in another chemistry course and discovered that Adesogan was the teacher.   Wills testified that she rarely attended the lectures after the first session, but Adesogan did not long remain at Brown.   During March 1994, Brown received further complaints of harassment by Adesogan from six or more other female students.   That same month Brown dismissed Adesogan. "
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