University, Professor Settle Suit over Dissertation, Alleged Advances

January 3, 2008

An Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor who has written about faculty-student relationships has settled a lawsuit brought by a doctoral student who claimed the professor sabotaged his dissertation when he spurned her advances.

Terms of the settlement were not spelled out in documents filed in U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh.

On Monday, Edward Olds, attorney for the plaintiff, Shane Sandridge, said only, “It was amicably worked out.” Olds also said Sandridge can remain in the doctoral program at IUP.

Sandridge sued IUP along with criminology professor, Jennifer Gossett, and two other officials at the state-owned school in June.

Sandridge, 34, claimed that Gossett headed his dissertation committee and began making romantic and sexual advances after he began his doctoral studies at IUP.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, which represented the school and Gossett, had denied those allegations. The state attorneys denied allegations that Gossett invited Sandridge to attend singles events with her, talked to him about her sexual relationships and problems, and tried to engage him in discussions about pornography.

The state attorneys also denied that Gossett tried to derail Sandridge’s dissertation and, instead, said Gossett and others on the committee continued to help Sandridge, including “providing feedback and comment to at least six drafts of his dissertation.”

According to federal court documents, the case was assigned to a mediator who reported the case settled on Nov. 21. A week later, a federal judge entered the settlement into the record “leaving to be completed the payment of settlement proceeds” and other details.

Attorney General’s spokesman Kevin Harley said terms of the settlement were not immediately available.

IUP spokeswoman Michelle Fryling said the school does not comment on litigation.

Nobody answered the phone in Gossett’s school office Monday and she did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment. The Associated Press could not locate a current home phone number for Gossett or Sandridge.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.