CHARLESTON – A former student is suing West Virginia State University and a professor for sexual harassment she claims she endured.
Rachel Halstead was a student at WVSU in the Criminal Justice Master’s Degree program and in approximately March or April 2014, she was in the office of her professor, Samuel Swindell, to discuss coursework, according to a complaint filed March 2 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Halstead claims while she was in Swindell’s office, he grabbed her buttocks in a sexually suggestive and hostile manner.
The plaintiff was approximately five months pregnant at the time and Swindell’s actions toward her were unwelcome, according to the suit.
Halstead claims initially reported the incident to Dr. Walter Stroupe and then later reported the incident to Joyce Chaney in the Human Resources Department.
The plaintiff is unaware of any other actions being taken on her behalf and Halstead believes it was not an isolated incident, according to the suit.
Halstead claims the defendants’ actions constitute sexual harassment as it was unwelcome and based upon her sex.
The defendants’ conduct was of such an outrageous nature as to constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress upon Halstead, according to the suit.
Tom Kleeh, attorney for the school, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that Swindell has not worked at the school since Halstead made the allegations.
“As soon as any issues were reported, the university began an immediate investigation and the professor never taught at the university again. As soon as they got those reports he has never taught a class there since,” Kleeh told the Gazette-Mail.
Halstead is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by JB Akers of Akers Law Offices PLLC.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 16-C-311