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Whistleblower Says College Made Him Fall Guy

(CN) - A community college official claims in court that he was fired and made "the fall guy" for protesting the college's refusal to report a student's complaint of sexual assault.

Thomas Galvin sued Roxbury Community College and three of its top officials: President Linda Edmonds Turner, Vice President Chuks Okoli, and Human Resources Director P. Paul Alexander, in Middlesex Superior Court, Woburn, Mass.

Galvin says he was Director of Facilities and Public Safety at Roxbury Community College from April 2007 until August 2012, when he was fired.

He claims he was fired after a prolonged investigation of a student's claims that she had been sexually assaulted by a former professor.

In November 2010, Galvin says, he received a letter from a student who said she had been "'sexually violated' by two professors at RCC and reported that she had previously reported these incidents to RCC officials."

Galvin said the student claims she had reported the incidents to "Vice President [Alane] Shanks" and an unidentified employee in the Human Resources Department.

Shanks, who is not a party to the complaint, no longer works for the college, the complaint states.

Galvin says in the complaint that after he reported the letter to his superiors, he found that one of the professors in question had been fired in 2006, "after another student reported to the college that Mr. Brown West [the professor] had sexually assaulted her."

Galvin claims that "complaints of sexual harassment against Mr. Brown West during his time at the college filled two folders."

On Jan. 4, 2011, Galvin claims, he attended a regular meeting with Vice President Shanks, at which "Vice President Shanks informed Mr. Galvin that the student was 'a liar' and that the student had never had as a teacher the person about whom he complained."

Galvin says he told her "that he was not inquiring about the truth of the allegations in the 2010 sexual assaults complaint, but was concerned about whether or not said complaint had been properly reported under The Clery Act."

(The federal Clery Act, of 1990, aka the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, requires colleges that get federal money to record and disclose information about crime on and near their campuses. The law is named for Jeanne Clery, who was killed in her dorm at Lehigh University in 1986.)

Galvin claims that in response to his questions, Vice President Shanks told him "there was nothing to report."

At that meeting, he says, Shanks also accused him of "'trying to get [her] in trouble.'" (Brackets in complaint.)

Galvin claims that defendant Alexander told him in a Nov. 30, 2010 email "that there was no crime to report and that the only action he should take was to refer the student to financial aid and student services."

Galvin claims he was told that "against at the January 4, 2011 meeting [with] Vice President Shanks," and that he was told it "repeatedly" by college officials.

The complaint adds: "On the same day that Vice President Shanks was notified that Mr. Galvin received a copy of the 2010 sexual assaults complaint and that she was identified specifically as having previous knowledge of the allegations, Vice President Shanks instructed then Comptroller Okoli and Nicole Kulig via email dated November 30, 2010 4:25 p.m. (attached here a Exhibit C), which clearly identified the student's name in the subject line, as follows:

"'Please provide a presidential scholarship to [the student] for the Fall 2010 remaining balance of $1,715.00 and send her a bill with a $0 balance. Please do this before the end of the week and let me know when it is completed as I need to get back with the others on this matter. Thank you.

"'Alane K. Shanks, Ed.D.

"'Vice President, Administration and Finance."

The complaint does not explain how

Galvin says the female student received the scholarship shortly thereafter, even though "at the time she filed her 2010 sexual assaults complaint, [she] had a 'dismissed status,' which is given to students who fail to meet minimum academic standards and are therefore ineligible for financial aid."

In July of 2011, Galvin says he and another college officials met with the director of State Audits for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and "reported the college's failure to report the student's 2010 sexual assault complaints under the Clery Act. They also reported suspected violations of other state and federal laws by the college involving audit and financial aid compliance irregularities, other personnel matters, and a child care center's license agreement."

Galvin claims the college then used its own legal counsel to conduct an investigation, which wrongfully implicated him in the cover-up of the sexual assaults.

The complaint states: "The Agreed Upon Report notes that Mr. Alexander's statement that the student told him she had reported the incidents to Mr. Galvin in 2009 is both uncorroborated and contradicted by the student's written statement (the 2010 sexual assaults complaint), Mr. Galvin's testimony and Mr. Galvin's November 30 email to Dr. Shanks." (Parentheses in complaint.)

When it came time to renew his contract, Galvin says its wording was altered to state that "'this reappointment has no terminal date and therefore is an indefinite appointment during which you shall serve at the pleasure of the president of the college.'"

He claims that his next performance review, on July 9, 2012 "criticized every area of [his] performance" and "was false and designed to justify Mr. Galvin's termination so the college could blame Mr. Galvin for its failure to comply with the Clery Act disclosure requirements."

Galvin says he was fired on Aug. this year.

A month later, he says, an article in the Boston Globe reported on turmoil in the college, and quoted defendant President Turner as saying, "'the individual who had the responsibility to report Clery Act violations as well as the responsibility to care for Dudley House is no longer employed by the college.'"

Galvin claims that it was he who "exposed the cover up of reported sexual assaults on campus to the college and then reported those failures to the Department of Education and the Director of State Audits, [but] the College, Mr. Alexander, Vice President Okoli and Dr. Edmonds Turner set up Mr. Galvin as 'the fall guy' in order to protect the college and their jobs."

Galvin seeks damages and treble damages for defamation, whistleblower violations, wrongful firing and conspiracy.

He is represented by Orestes Brown, with Metaxas Brown Pidgeon, of Beverly, Mass.

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