Female students had to remove shirts in class at Montgomery College, federal investigation finds

Female students were directed to take off their shirts and wear only bras, while their professor commented on their bodies at Montgomery College’s Takoma/Silver Spring campus in Maryland, according to a federal sexual harassment investigation.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OSR) said the school promptly started a Title IX investigation, which led to the professor being fired, but should have done more to notify other students that the investigation was completed, and what was being done to prevent future harassment.

OCR announced its reached an agreement with Montgomery College to resolve its investigation, with the understanding the school will take steps to improve its notification procedures.

“OCR’s investigation established that a college professor engaged in sexual harassment of female students during a class he taught by requiring the students to remove their shirts and wear only their bras — and then commenting on their bodies — ostensibly to demonstrate a medical assessment, despite the fact that the assessment did not require the clothing removal, or the bodily commentary,” the agency said.

Shortly after the initial allegation, the school’s Title IX coordinator emailed all students in the professor’s class that a formal investigation would be launched. After interviews, within three months of the initial complaint, the school’s investigation confirmed the professor’s conduct created a hostile environment on the basis of sex.

As a result, the professor was fired.

“Despite these effective Title IX steps, the college did not notify all affected students regarding the conclusion of its investigation,” OCR said. “This lack of notification raises a concern that the college may not have taken necessary steps to ensure that a hostile environment did not persist for affected students.”

Now, the college will notify in writing of all students in the professor’s class that the school completed its investigation of the sexual harassment complaint against the professor as part of the resolution.

“The shameful underlying facts in this investigation — of a college professor subjecting his entire class to sexual harassment as a condition of instruction — are galling and categorically unacceptable under Title IX,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon in a statement.

In addition, the school will also provide OCR with the results of its 2022 Title IX climate survey, and provide a narrative summary of steps Montgomery County has and will take, “to ensure college students are able to access their education free from discrimination,” the agency said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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