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Ohio state university horticulture

Ohio state university horticulture


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Ohio state university horticulture professor cited for sexually harassing students

An academic who was once a star student at Ohio State University has now been accused of sexual harassment of his former students.

Richard Vidal, a professor of horticulture at the university, has been the subject of multiple lawsuits and formal complaints that paint a sordid picture of harassment against young female students at his lab, according to court filings.

Vidal, now 61, is a well-known proponent of biogas, a method of turning human waste into a fertilizer. His discipline of study is founded on academic freedom and has garnered him the attention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ohio House of Representatives.

In a sworn affidavit filed in one case, a former student alleged that Vidal tried to meet with her in a stairwell during the summer of 2007, according to the Dayton Daily News. When she rebuffed his advances, Vidal sent an e-mail to a colleague calling the student a “deviant,” the paper reported.

Vidal told the Columbus Dispatch last month that the allegations are false. “All of these accusations against me are absurd,” he told the newspaper.

A 2013 report from the university s Office of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct found that Vidal s actions constitute sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The Daily News reported Monday that an Ohio State University Title IX officer has recommended Vidal s firing, and the university s academic senate is considering the case. In an official statement from the university, the school s executive vice president and provost said, The conduct of Professor Vidal s actions violated the principles of institutional support and support for the students.

Vidal joined Ohio State University as an instructor of horticulture in 1984, and after attaining tenure was named a professor in 1992.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2015, a student sued the university in a Title IX case for repeatedly failing to investigate complaints that Vidal had groped and made lewd remarks toward her and other female students, the paper said. She alleged that Vidal, who also serves as chair of the University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, repeatedly invited her to his house for drinks, made her perform oral sex on him and asked to see her naked, the paper reported.

One of the alleged incidents occurred in a classroom, where Vidal allegedly placed his hands on her breasts while sitting in front of a white board with a chalkboard eraser, the Times reported.

The student reported her experiences to the university s Office of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, the paper reported. That office found that, due to his position and status as an Ohio State professor, (Vidal) had authority over the student and as a result, his conduct constituted sexual harassment under Title IX and violated the student s right to be free from discrimination, the Times reported. The office forwarded the case to university s Interim Title IX coordinator, the paper reported.

The university s inter-office investigation concluded that Vidal had violated the university s sexual harassment policy and the school s Title IX sexual harassment and sexual assault policy. Vidal declined to comment about the case, the Times reported.

Two years later, the Times reported, a graduate student filed a lawsuit against Vidal and Ohio State University in federal court, claiming Vidal had harassed and sexually assaulted her in 2007, according to the newspaper. In the court documents, the student alleged that in July 2007, Vidal called her to his house in the middle of the night to celebrate her graduation from Ohio State and to warn her about graduation party drinking, according to the Times.

She told him that she was planning to stay sober during the event, the Times reported. She alleged that Vidal arrived at her house with another woman and that he sexually assaulted her after entering the house. After the assault, Vidal allegedly raped the woman as well, according to the Times.

Vidal denied the allegations, the Times reported. In a sworn affidavit, he said that she had fabricated her story and was seeking to discredit him, the Times reported.

The Times reported that Vidal s ex-wife, Lucy Vidal, also filed a lawsuit against Ohio State in federal court. She alleged that her husband s actions had cost her her career as a teacher and that he attempted to destroy her credibility by leaking information to the newspaper, according to the Times.

In a 2012 affidavit, she alleged that her husband had improperly touched her and made inappropriate comments while they were watching television in his basement. She alleged that he tried to touch her breast and buttocks and that he asked her to dress like a hooker, according to the Times.

After the incident, she alleged, her husband asked her to recant her story in exchange for monetary compensation, the Times reported.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, she alleged that he forced her to record a phone conversation in which he asked her to remove the allegations from a website. After she did so, she said that she was immediately banned from the state house website.

Vidal told the paper that he has never forced anyone to have sex with me, ever. He said that it was his former wife who threatened him and that she gave me a little pistol and told me to shoot myself, he told the paper.

In an official statement released Monday, Vidal s lawyer told the Daily Dispatch, I am ready and willing to defend myself in any manner my former wife chooses. After a 10-month legal battle, she is now a convicted felon in prison and her life has been utterly destroyed.... The board of trustees have not made a decision on my case and in my opinion they are being played for a fool.

The Ohio House s Education and Labor Committee discussed Vidal s case at a meeting Monday, the Dispatch reported. An Ohio Senate committee is set to hold a hearing on the case Tuesday, the paper reported.

Similar allegations

According to court documents obtained by the Daily Dispatch, Vidal repeatedly


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