Saturday, October 24, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 13th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 50 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 50

SBCC ignored student's complaints of sexual harassment, lawsuit alleges


A former Santa Barbara City College student is claiming that the school’s faculty and administrators failed to properly investigate her complaints of sexual harassment at the hands of a fellow student.
In her lawsuit against the college, the student, Santa Ynez resident Christian Dungey, claimed that the college failed to take the appropriate action after she made multiple complaints that another student was stalking and sexually harassing her, and she was instead told to withdraw from her classes.
“I was terrified, but no one did anything about it,” Dungey, 51, told the Sun. “I went through hell the entire time I was at that school.”
According to the lawsuit, the harassment began after Dungey began attending the college in August 2018 to earn a degree in drug and alcohol counseling. There, she said a male student in her classes and study group began harassing her. The harassment started with inappropriate text messages, but became more aggressive. He began following her around campus and moaning and making sexually suggestive comments to her in class. In one instance, the lawsuit claims, the same male student put his arm around her and moved it down to her buttocks. According to an October 2018 Santa Barbara Police Department report obtained by the Sun, the student who allegedly harassed Dungey was on parole for a rape conviction. In his report, the investigator said that while the male student’s behavior toward Dungey was “inappropriate,” it wasn’t criminal.
The lawsuit claims that Dungey tried to report the harassment to multiple people at the college. Those included one of her instructors who told her that she’d talk to her alleged harasser, stating “he’s harmless.” When she tried to report the harassment to the chair of the college’s counseling department, he too said he’d talk to the man. When she spoke with a staff member from the college’s Healing and Wellness center, the lawsuit alleges that Dungey was told to withdraw from her classes.
“In my opinion, it seemed like they just didn’t want to get involved,” Dungey said. “They were probably hoping that I’d just sweep it under the rug and walk away.”
The lawsuit also states that Dungey was told that an investigation into her complaints under federal equal protection laws, also known as Title IX, was “unnecessary” and never initiated. Dungey’s attorney, Rachael Saure, said the failure to investigate was a violation of Title IX’s reporting requirements.
“They should have filed a Title IX report immediately when she came to them with those allegations,” Saure told the Sun. “When you bring this sort of thing to a school’s attention, they are legally required to take steps to bring it to an end.”
In the end, Dungey said she dropped out of her classes and is no longer attending the college.
“It really devastated my entire life,” Dungey said. “It’s very discouraging.”
While the lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages, both Dungey and her attorney said they hope it will push the college to make changes to way it handles complaints of sexual harassment.
“How many other women have gone through or will go through this same thing and [are] terrified?” Dungey said. “They need to take action.”
Santa Barbara City College did not respond to questions about the lawsuit’s allegations for this story in time for publication.

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