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Colorado University Moves to Fire Professor Over Sex Assault Probe

BOULDER, Colo. — The University of Colorado is moving to fire a tenured philosophy professor who launched his own investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving two graduate students.

The alleged victim claimed associate professor David Barnett turned in a 38-page report on the investigation saying she lied about the assault and was “sexually promiscuous,” according to a notice of intent to sue the university filed last month. The woman said Barnett violated her rights under the federal Title IX law.

She and the university settled her lawsuit over the claims with a $825,000 settlement this week, the Daily Camera reported Friday.

Campus spokesman Ryan Huff confirmed that chancellor Phil DiStefano recently issued a notice of intent to dismiss Barnett, a 44-year-old who has taught in the philosophy department since 2005.

The alleged victim’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said she took legal action to prevent victims from potentially being retaliated against but didn’t ask that Barnett be fired.

Barnett’s lawyer, Brian Moore, denies that Barnett smeared the alleged victim and said he was trying to uncover the unfairness of the university’s Office of Discrimination and Harassment investigation into the alleged assault at an off-campus party in August 2012. Police didn’t pursue charges in the case.

Barnett served as a mentor to the doctorate student accused of the sexual assault. That student was suspended as an instructor during the university’s investigation and Huff said his contract wasn’t renewed. A Boulder police report shows the university’s investigation found the student violated the school’s sexual harassment policy.

The university has refused to release a copy of Barnett’s report.

Moore said CU is trying to use his client to send a message to the rest of the philosophy department, which was faulted for having pervasive sexual harassment and bullying in a January report by the American Philosophical Association Committee. He said Barnett deserves whistleblower protection under Colorado law.

“Every male member of the CU philosophy department already has had his reputation damaged as a result of the administration’s selective release of information,” Moore said. “Now, even though professor Barnett is not accused of harassing anyone, the administration is attempting to make him a scapegoat.”

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