Reports: Michigan professor sexually harassed students

As many as eight in 10 women experience sexual harassment in their lifetimes. (mpplc/Twenty20)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A political science professor who worked at the University of Michigan and recently left Michigan State University exploited his position and sexually harassed graduate students, according to investigations conducted by both universities.

Michigan State hired a consulting firm Kroll Inc. last year to investigate allegations against William Jacoby, The Lansing State Journal reported .

One former student alleged that Jacoby asked for sexual favors in return for academic guidance on her research, while another told investigators he propositioned her to start an affair.

“I was stunned,” said Rebecca Gill, who was a Michigan State political science graduate student in 2002. “I just kind of came to (my) senses and said something like ‘You can’t expect me to answer that.'”

Gill said the experience shook her confidence and made it difficult to work with male mentors.

Jacoby has denied the allegations and hasn’t been sanctioned or faced charges. He said the University of Michigan’s report is biased and incomplete and that he’s looking into appealing the Michigan State report.

The evidence shows a “distinct pattern of behavior,” and many of the women were able to provide witnesses to support their allegations, Michigan State’s report said.

“This evidence supports that he sexually propositions female graduate students in the Political Science field, particularly students who express interest in benefiting from his influence, guidance, and support within their education and career,” the report said.

The University of Michigan’s report released in October also concluded that Jacoby violated the university’s sexual harassment policy.

Jacoby, who joined Michigan State in 2003, retired on Jan. 1 and is no longer affiliated with the university, said Heather Young, a university spokeswoman. The university can’t discipline a retired faculty member, but it may limit his involvement in the institution by potentially excluding him from committees, lectures and other events, she said.

Jacoby also held positions at the University of South Carolina, Ohio State University, and the University of Missouri.

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