Education

CSU Orders Independent Investigation Into Fresno State Sexual Assault Allegations After Chancellor Resignation

Written by William Hekman

The California State University System announced Tuesday that an independent investigation has been started into how Fresno State handled sexual assault allegations against an employee from 2014 to 2019. 

The employee, Frank Lamas, served as Vice President of Student Affairs at Fresno State. Lamas is accused of sexual harassment “at least a dozen times” according to an investigation done by USA Today. Lamas’s served under Joseph Castro, former Chancellor of the CSU system and former Fresno State President. After the investigation by USA Today, Castro came under fire for failing to take disciplinary actions. Castro resigned as Chancellor last month. Castro allowed Lamas to leave his job after allegations were made against him and even got a letter of reference from Castro, “I received an outstanding letter of reference from my supervisor then-President Joseph Castro and positive evaluations every year I was at the university.” Castro also never disciplined Lamas for his behavior. One complaint against Lamas accused him of telling an employee they would get a promotion in exchange for sexual favors. 

One investigation into Lamas, obtained by The Chronicle of Higher Education, investigated a complaint made against Lamas that said he repeatedly touched a female employee and made inappropriate comments about her body. Acting Chair of the California State Board of Trustees Lillian Kimbell said, “It is important that we understand how campus leaders at Fresno State responded to workplace concerns about Frank Lamas. We will investigate the past to reveal potential new facts, learn and take appropriate action.” 

CSU also announced a change to a policy regarding “retreat rights”. The policy previously allowed administrators to become faculty members if they are fired from management. The policy was changed to exclude administrators who have engaged in sexual harassment or other forms of misconduct from serving as a faculty member, “That opportunity to retreat should be extended to individuals in good standing with the CSU, not to individuals who have engaged in significant misconduct” said Acting CSU Chancellor Steve Relya.