A university professor is no longer teaching at San Jose State University following an NBC Bay Area investigation. For the first time since she learned the instructor is no longer employed by SJSU, the student at the center of the story is talking. Chief Investigative Reporter Tony Kovaleski reports in a story that aired on June 28, 2013.
The San Jose State University professor accused of crossing the line with a student during an after-hours meeting in his office is no longer employed by the university, the Investigative Unit has learned.
“I’m very surprised,” the female student said of her instructor’s departure.
Last month, the student—who asked that her name not be used because she still attends San Jose State—told NBC Bay Area her side of what happened. She said kinesiology instructor Jeffry Mathis sexually assaulted her when she went to his office after hours last August to contest a grade from the prior semester.
“He looked at me and touched me and said, ‘How do you want to better your grade?’” the student said. “I told him, ‘No, I don’t want to do it this way. I am not this type of person.’”
She said she wanted her teacher to be held accountable for his actions. Last September the university investigated the student’s complaint and decisions made by Mathis. In a confidential report obtained by NBC Bay Area, university officials wrote that Mathis admitted to “kissing and touching the complainant sexually” though he “believed it was consensual.” The report concluded, “Whether or not their actions were consensual in this instance, his position is one of power over the students” and “he has a duty not to allow situations to develop.”
When asked earlier this month why she believes Mathis is no longer employed at San Jose State the student said, “I feel because he knows and they know what he did was wrong.”
Following San Jose State’s announcement that Mathis is no longer employed by the university, NBC Bay Area contacted Mathis for comment but has received no response. Last month before the original investigation aired Mathis declined requests for an interview, but did tell the Investigative Unit on campus that he wasn’t allowed to talk about the situation.
After watching the original investigation, SJSU students formed a group called “Students for the Accountability of Jeffry Mathis” and demanded action by top administrators at San Jose State.
Earlier this month university president Mohammed Qayoumi sent a letter to students saying that after the incident in Mathis’s office last August, San Jose State officials investigated and took appropriate action. For ten months Mathis continued to teach, but three weeks after the NBC Bay Area investigation aired, the same letter announced that “Mr. Mathis is no longer employed by SJSU.”
“We don’t want this situation to happen again where someone is accused of sexual assault and nothing is done by the university,” said SJSU senior Sasha Bassett.
The students now say they want to know why Mathis’s departure came ten months after the university’s internal review and followed a television investigation and a campus petition.
“It’s kind of concerning that the university didn’t do anything until we applied pressure to the situation,” said SJSU student Rosie Mendoza.
Qayoumi has declined multiple interview requests to explain why Mathis is no longer employed by the university and why the San Jose State allowed him to continue teaching after the university’s internal investigation concluded he had “the duty not to allow situations to develop” with students. The student at the heart of this story said she remains disappointed with the way her university handled this situation.
“I feel he needs to express exactly what happened and admit they were wrong,” the student said. “It’s just really upsetting because I personally wanted to graduate from San Jose State. I feel that I don’t feel comfortable at that school.”
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