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The Chronicle Of Higher Education reports on the efforts of a community college to shame a jury for daring to award compensatory and punitive damages against it for its failure to protect an employee from the sexual advances of a campus police officer.

The story does not detail the misconduct of the community college which supported the jury’s verdict. I assume the college has courses on sexual-harassment, that it understands an employer can be held liable for its failure to put a stop to it, that the jury found the college was very deficient in this regard and that a judge will review the propriety of the jury’s verdict. I also assume there will be new course materials in the works as well as some retraining of supervisory employees.

Officials at the St. Louis Community College system say that members of a jury who found the institution liable for $850,000 in a sexual-harassment case are punishing the community by forcing local authorities to increase taxes, by making the system cut programs or raise tuition, or by bringing about all three.

the court testimony of Henry D. Shannon, the system’s chancellor, who warned the jury that substantial damages could result in reduced services and tax and tuition increases, according to the Post-Dispatch.

The jury award stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Caren Sharpe, who works as secretary to the police chief at the system’s Meramec campus. She sued the college because she believed her bosses had failed to protect her from the sexual advances of a campus police officer, according to the news report. A jury found in her favor on Friday and awarded her $400,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and $450,000 in punitive damages.

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