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2 Univ. of Akron Employees Resign after Harassment Claim



110321102227_universityofakron16x9Two University of Akron employees, including a Republican candidate for Summit County, Ohio sheriff, have resigned their positions after a university investigation concluded they violated the school’s sexual harassment policy.

Sheriff candidate Randy Rivers and his supervisor, Michael Jalbert, stepped down from their jobs.

Their actions followed an Aug. 3 complaint filed by a female employee that alleged Rivers began sexually harassing her after he joined the university in July 2011 as part-time commander of the Law Enforcement Training Center, according to an article Saturday in The Beacon Journal. Jalbert was criticized for not adequately responding to her concerns.

The newspaper declined to name the woman consistent with its policy on sexual harassment and sex crimes cases.

Rivers told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday that the university pressured him to leave his post. He said that he had not been warned that any statements were considered inappropriate.

“I told these people yesterday that I felt like I was blind-folded and being led down a set of railroad tracks,” Rivers said.

Jalbert declined comment to the paper. A message was left at his home number Saturday seeking comment.

According to investigative notes provided to the paper by the university through a public records request, the university’s Equal Employment Opportunity investigator interviewed about 18 people — mostly employees — before concluding the two men had violated the school’s policy on sexual harassment.

The female employee said in her complaint that Rivers stared at her and made inappropriate sexual comments, including telling a class of 34 cadets in an orientation class “not to get your mammaries in a bind” and that they would have to “put out.”

The newspaper reported the employee responded by moving to a different office, changing her work hours, and wearing button-up shirts.

Rivers said he did use those phrases, but in order to train the police cadets — not to harass the woman.

“What I said is, ‘If you people want to pass this Academy class, you need to pass that physical training.’ And I said, in that regard, ‘You need to put out, you need to give it your all, you have to give it your best,”’ Rivers said. “So that’s what I said.

The employee told a different story.

“I am constantly worrying about the next work day and how I am going to avoid certain situations with Mr. Rivers,” she reported in her official statement. “I have a hard time concentrating on tasks while he’s sitting in my office staring at me and I want to hide when I hear him coming down the hallway.”

According to Jalbert’s account, the employee complained that Rivers was “creepy” and Jalbert advised her to keep a journal.

“I asked on several occasions what if anything she wanted me to do and there did not seem to be any urgency,” he is quoted in the university report as saying.

Rivers said he will make his experience a plank of his campaign platform, emphasizing the need for fair, fact-based investigations in law enforcement. He faces Democrat Steve Barry of Green in November.

A university spokeswoman said Rivers made almost $44,000 in his part-time job of commander and adjunct instructor last year. He had been on has been on paid administrative leave since the complaint was filed.

Jalbert was paid $125,478 as an associate dean in the university’s Summit College and another $5,000 as interim director of the Training Center for Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement that houses the training center led by Rivers. He will stay on at the university as a tenured professor teaching business technology.

The university sent an email to employees Friday reminding them that it was their responsibility to read and understand the university’s sexual harassment policies.


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