SDSU Professor Still Teaching After Sexually Harassing Student - NBC 7 San Diego
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SDSU Spanish Professor accused of sexually harrassing students

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SDSU Professor Still Teaching After Sexually Harassing Student

Text messages reviewed by NBC 7 Investigates confirm professor suggested a student meet him off-campus for drinks at a bar or at his home

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    SDSU professor Vincent Martin is accused of sending hundreds of suggestive text messages to a young female student. He continues to teach at the university, despite violating the state education code. NBC 7 Investigates’ Mari Payton shares the story on April 23, 2015. (Published Friday, April 24, 2015)

    A San Diego State University professor sent hundreds of suggestive text messages to a young female student, violating the state education code, according to SDSU investigative documents.

    NBC 7 Investigates has confirmed professor Vincent Martin, who teaches Spanish literature and grammar at SDSU, continues to teach at the university.

    The student involved asked NBC 7 not to publish her name because she does not want her life defined by what she described as a nightmare experience at SDSU.

    The student said the university has not done enough to punish Martin for his behavior. She saved dozens of text messages and emails from Martin and shared them with NBC 7 Investigates.

    Her allegations are confirmed, in part, by an August 2014 “Notice of Investigative Outcome” from the SDSU Office of Employee Relations and Compliance.

    The student said Martin is an expert in the works of 16th century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes and early modern Hispanic theater. He also has a Ph.D. from New York University.

    The student told NBC 7 Investigates Martin had a reputation for provocative behavior with female students. But because she said she needed two of his classes to finish her Spanish major, and felt confident she could keep her distance if Martin tried to cross the line of appropriate behavior, she enrolled in the class anyway.

    She said it all started innocently during a summer session course in 2013, when Martin learned she baby-sat on the side.

    According to the student, he made a comment, “Oh, well, I can use a baby sitter for my daughter. It’s hard finding a college-age student that wants to baby-sit. Would you be willing?”

    She gave Martin her cellphone number and email address. She said doing so unleashed a flood of hundreds of unwelcomed texts and emails.

    During an interview with NBC 7 Investigates, she read, and explained, one of the text messages she found most disturbing: “‘Buenos Dias, rubia.’ Which means 'Good day, blondie' basically. 'What day/night-were you thinking you might want to come over for food/drink/movie/whatev's? Weekend, weekday, not sure? Just checking. Don't want to make plans for that day,’ with a smiley face."

    The student said Martin also asked her via text if she wanted to go to Tijuana with him, “…to go partying over the weekend."

    Text messages reviewed by NBC 7 Investigates confirm Martin suggested the student meet him after class or away from school for drinks at a bar or restaurant or at Martin's home.

    "That was really surprising to me,” the student told NBC 7 Investigates.

    “I had no idea he would be that stupid, honestly,” she said. “Because that was in black-and-white. He knew I was under 21, because I explicitly told him I was under 21."

    But she said that knowledge did not stop the suggestive messages.

    "So his response is, 'Not 21?' with a series of question marks,” the student said. “'But you're so mature,' in all caps. 'Wow, very impressed. So we'll do something else, and pick up pizza and beer or wine and chat.' In parentheses 'I won't tell if you won't.' With a winky, smiley face."

    She said she did respond to some of his texts because, she said, it's difficult to ignore a professor in a position of authority in a class she needed in order to graduate.

    She also said Martin gave her a low grade on a test because she refused his invitations: “And he told me that all I had to do if I wanted to raise my grade was come to office hours and we could work something out between the two of us.”

    In October 2013 the student filed a formal complaint against Martin with SDSU's Office of Employee Relations and Compliance.

    A document obtained by NBC 7 Investigates reveals a university investigator interviewed Martin, three other SDSU faculty members and 14 other students.

    The investigation confirmed the student’s allegations and "concluded that Dr. Martin engaged in conduct of a sexually-oriented nature ... sufficiently severe to constitute sexual harassment" in violation of the state education code.

    As a result, the university allowed her to drop Martin's course without a penalty, and the full investigative report was sent to the administration and faculty affairs departments.

    Martin did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story, but his attorney said Martin disagrees with the findings of that investigation and will challenge them.

    SDSU declined our request for an interview and, citing privacy rights, would not provide any details about Martin's case.

    For those reasons, it is unknown if Martin has been — or will be — disciplined as a result of the findings of that investigation.

    NBC 7 Investigates has confirmed Martin is still teaching at SDSU. He has three classes this semester and is scheduled to teach another course this summer.

    The student who filed the complaint against him said she is angry the university will not tell her about any actions that may have been taken against Martin or the status of his case.

    "I don't think that a person who uses his daughter as bait to get action and who uses his job as a dating service, I don't think someone like that should be employed,” the student said. “And the fact that SDSU is continuing to employ him knowing that all this is true, I think is disgusting."

    SDSU did provide general information about sexual harassment and discrimination cases filed against faculty, staff members and other SDSU personnel in recent years.

    According to the information provided, 13 allegations were filed from 2009 to 2013. Ten of the accused were faculty members or instructors. Five of the 13 complaints were found to be valid.

    Evidence in the other eight cases either did not support the allegation, or the person who filed the complaint did not follow through.

    In a written statement accompanying those statistics, SDSU said in part it “ … takes all complaints of sexual harassment seriously ... If an allegation of sexual harassment is sustained, the University takes immediate corrective action to remedy" the problem.

    Watch the full story tonight on NBC 7 at 11 p.m. on TV or in our mobile app.

    NBC 7 Investigates is working for you. If you have more information about this or other story tips, contact us: (619) 578-0393, NBC7Investigates@nbcuni.com. To receive the latest NBC 7 Investigates stories, subscribe to our newsletter.