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Sunday, June 5, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sexual-Harassment Cases Cost UCLA Over $1 Million

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES - The University of California, Los Angeles, has paid out more than $1 million in confidential settlements over four years to women who were raped, sexually harassed or faced gender discrimination at the school, according to documents released by the school.

In one case, the school paid $300,000 to a female student who was raped by two men at Reiber Hall, a student dormitory, and in another it paid $330,000 to an employee who was allegedly raped, molested and subjected to sexual abuse by a supervisor described by the employee's attorney as a figure of "power and prestige within the university."

More than 1,600 pages of documents from four secret settlements were released last week under a recent court order obtained by the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper. The Bruin filed its lawsuit after Chancellor Charles Young mentioned the settlements in a 1992 news conference but refused to provide further details.

Joe Mandel, UCLA's vice chancellor for legal affairs, said Friday that university officials consider any case of sexual misconduct or discrimination regrettable but he said the number and amounts of the confidential settlements were modest for a campus with 20,000 employees, 33,000 students and budget of $1.5 billion.

Mandel said the confidential settlements were intended to do the right thing for the victims while saving taxpayers money by avoiding the potential expense of litigation.

The attorney for one of the victims, however, said UCLA's response to her client's sexual-harassment allegations was pitiful and excruciatingly slow. Lisa Bloom, the attorney, also said it was the university, not her client, who insisted the final 1993 settlement be confidential.

The documents show that UCLA agreed to pay more than $163,000 to Bloom's client, a former manager in the school's Department of Business Enterprises who supervised a crew of 40 to 60 student employees.

The woman complained that on her first day of work in 1988, her boss came into the room and unzipped his pants to tuck his shirt in. She also complained that he made profane and sexual remarks, discussed his vasectomy and its subsequent reversal, and once declared that he was going home to have "industrial sex" with his wife to conceive a child.

An internal university fact-finding report, dated July 1992, upheld the woman's complaints and confirmed that her supervisor's behavior contributed to a department "filled with sexual language, gestures, racial jokes, stories of rape and even an alleged suicide attempt." Mandel said the supervisor was fired.

In another case, UCLA agreed in May 1990 to pay $330,000 to a woman who accused a married faculty member of coercing her into having sexual contact as a condition of her employment. She said the faculty member raped her twice one evening in his home, then continued to harass her on campus, making sexual remarks and locking her in his office to watch him masturbate. The woman suffered an emotional breakdown.

Although the faculty member maintained that the sexual relationship was consensual, the university concluded that the woman was a victim of sexual harassment. Mandel said Friday that the faculty member was suspended without pay in the wake of the allegations.

In a third case, UCLA paid $300,000 in 1990 to a female student who was raped by two intruders in January 1987 in Reiber Hall. Her attorney, Daniel Cathcart, said Friday that the university agreed to the settlement after a civil-court jury deadlocked over charges that UCLA was negligent because it failed to provide security in the dorm.

In the fourth case, UCLA paid $255,000 in 1992 to a woman who said she was discriminated against on the job because of medical leave she took in the early 1980s due to complications from a pregnancy. The woman said she was harassed because she wanted to work a four-day schedule.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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