Former UAA Anthropology Professor fights sex discrimination sanctions

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The ex-University of Alaska anthropology professor permanently banned from campus and campus events for sexual discrimination and harassment of female students and staff says he's being treated unfairly.

David Yesner filed an appeal of the university's sanctions April 30, a move he sought to keep confidential.

Yesner hand wrote a two-sentence statement, saying that the "case has received significant media publicity" to his detriment, and that he'd like the case to be kept confidential to "minimize impact" on his reputation.

Yesner has not returned KTUU's request for comment.

The investigation, conducted through the authority of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, determined Yesner had sexually discriminated against and harassed nine women, and sexually assaulted one of them.

Title IX investigations are not law enforcement investigations, and Yesner is not charged with any crimes.

Female students have described unwelcome touching and staring by Yesner, inappropriate conversations, finding pornography on university computers, and said they suffered academic retaliation when they denied his advances.

Complaints to school officials languished with no action, some of those students claim in a lawsuit filed against the University.

[RELATED: University of Alaska, Board of Regents, UAA professor sued over sexual misconduct claims]

Outrage over Yesner's conduct intensified in December, when it became known he was under consideration for emiritus, an honor given to retired professors.

Yesner offers six reasons why the findings and decision were improper, including lack of evidence, problems with the investigation, sanctions that are "inconsistent with the alleged misconduct," and the university's publication of its sanctions.

Yesner, who filed the case without the assistance of an attorney, also said in court documents that the sanctions are "vague and ambiguous" and violate his constitutional rights.

Title IX investigations fall under the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Title IX states that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

UAA's Title IX investigator completed its findings on March 15.
Yesner's conduct was so "severe, pervasive and persistent" that it interfered with "female students' and staffs' ability to perform their jobs or engage in university programs," UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen wrote to Yesner in an April 1 letter stripping Yesner of access to university property and activity, and banning him from future employment and honorary statuses.

May 15, several women filed a lawsuit in federal court against Yesner, the Unversity of Alaska system and its Board of Regents, claiming Yesner's conduct and the university's inaction caused them emotional harm as well as delays in earning their degrees and lost professional opportunities.