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University of Alaska Professor Sued for Sexual Misconduct

A group of students are suing University of Alaska Anchorage archaeology professor David Yesner for sexual harassment and retaliation, The Associated Press reported.

The suit, filed in a federal court by 20 female plaintiffs, also criticizes the University of Alaska system and its Board of Regents for not complying with Title IX processes and procedures.

According to KTUU TV, the lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs suffered “sexual harassment, exploitation, and academic and professional retaliation” by Yesner for years. His employment with the university ended in 2017.

The lawsuit further alleges the university of not taking action against the professor and giving him multiple promotions despite complaints of misconduct between 2011-2017. The plaintiffs said that Yesner was reported multiple times to university administrators and faculty members, who often took the complaints lightly.

“What the University did do was continue to reward Yesner for his sexual harassment, sweeping the students’/Plaintiffs’ complaints under the rug and awarding Yesner with promotion after promotion within the Anthropology department and within the graduate school in general,” the lawsuit says.

One of the plaintiffs faced a hard time with the university’s Title IX office, which did not return her calls to provide an update about victim resources and referrals for support.

“The safety and wellbeing of female students came a distant second to the University’s desire to protect its reputation and fundraising efforts,” the suit reads.

“The University chose convenience and money to the detriment of their students, specifically Plaintiffs and the other victims of Professor Yesner.”

In March, the Title IX office completed its investigation into Yesner’s conduct and found that the allegations of nine women were true. This prompted university officials to ban him from accessing university property, as well as from future employment and honorary statuses.

Last month, Yesner filed an appeal in court, claiming that the decisions were improper and citing a lack of evidence, problems with the investigation, and sanctions.

The lawsuit is seeking a trial by jury and an unspecified amount in damages for deprivation of equal access to educational benefits, emotional pain, mental anguish, loss of earning and all tuition and related expenses.

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