Thursday 21 September 2017

Lecturer who 'inappropriately touched students and made sexual comments' receives €150k pay-off

Three students made complaints

University of Limerick Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
University of Limerick Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A lecturer was paid €150,000 by the University of Limerick to terminate his employment after he was accused of inappropriately touching students and making sexual references in class.

In one incident, the unidentified lecturer quoted Winston Churchill and said the following when advising students on the desired length of an essay: "A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest."

The exact details of the other complaints made cannot be disclosed as they may identify the three alleged victims and the lecturer.

Sources told the Limerick Leader that all the allegations were rejected by the employee concerned, and while he conceded that some of the remarks may have been "careless or clumsy," he did not feel they warranted the action taken.

The disclosure of the €150,000 sum has been made by former UL president Don Barry in new correspondence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Mr Barry outlined how the complaints had been made by three students back in 2013.

"The complaints referred to inappropriate sexual references in class and inappropriate touching of students causing them to feel uncomfortable," he stated.

An external investigator was appointed in February 2014 to investigate the complaints, which cost €6,973.

A compromise agreement for €150,000 was then entered into as the university terminated the lecturer's employment.

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea has described the severance payment as "bizarre" and "gobsmacking".

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for UL said: "The requested information pertains to an employment matter the details of which are private and confidential having regard to the rights and obligations of all of the parties involved."

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