USC Prof Accused of Luring Students to Italy for Sex Gets Axed From Classroom. Students Say It’s Not Enough.
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After strong pressure from student activists, the University of South Carolina hired a full-time art history professor accused of years of intimidating and sexually harassing students and faculty members.
"Professor David Voros will not be teaching at the University of South Carolina this spring," USC spokesman Jeff Stensland said in a statement released Tuesday. "Instead, he will be reassigned to other duties outside of the classroom until further notice."
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The university has not taken sexual harassment complaints like the one against Voros seriously enough, according to the 2,280 - and counting - students who signed an online petition calling for Voros to be fired.
Voros' alleged behavior first became known in 2018 when a former PhD student filed a lawsuit against him after a summer session abroad. In court records, student Allison Dunavant said Voros approached her during class about the USC in Italy program and said that “her artwork would greatly benefit from visiting Italy and seeing works of art like that of Titian and Michelangelo in person. ”
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But Dunavant claimed Voros misled her and two other students on the three-week trip in 2016. The living quarters that Voros made available in the Tuscan village of Siena had bars on the windows and the building was "filled with cat urine, scorpions, and spiders," according to the suit. Voros wouldn't let her eat until she was done with her work. These included “cleaning a patio covered in cat droppings and dirt,” “removing paint from bricks with a sponge,” and “scrubbing cat urine off couches and their pillows,” Dunavant said.
Voros allegedly promised Dunavant that if she did have sex with him, she wouldn't have to work as hard - as one of the other two students on the trip apparently did. The university did nothing to respond to its claims, Dunavant told The Post and Courier.
On Twitter, Dunavant described the removal of Voros from the classroom as a "big step," but said the professor should in fact be fired.
"This is still USC interpreting its guidelines in a way that is gray and unfavorable to student safety," she wrote.
USC has not submitted an official response to the allegations. A USC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. Last year, USC banned Voros from taking students abroad.
In November, two former colleagues sued Voros, including his ex-wife Professor Pamela Bowers, who also taught art at USC. After leaving Voros in 2017 because of his inappropriate relationships with students, Voros became hostile and continued to make undesirable sexual advances towards Bowers, her lawsuit alleges. After being constantly harassed and even followed across campus, Bowers said goodbye last year without pay. She hasn't returned to work yet.
In a separate lawsuit, Jaime Misenheimer, who taught at Voros and Bowers, made similar claims. According to Misenheimer's file, Voros molested her and made inappropriate sexual advances on multiple occasions. In one episode, Voros allegedly locked Misenheimer in a closet, put his arm around her and held a plastic doll head in front of her face.
"The plaintiff could feel his heavy breath on her skin and the front of his body was touching the back of her body," the lawsuit said. "The plaintiff froze in fear, feeling disgusted and intimidated by the actions of the defendant Voros ... The plaintiff shivered out of the closet and reported the incident ..."
When she complained, Misenheimer's suit said the school administrators had told her to "think about the guy". Department head Laura Kissel allegedly told Misenheimer to "put crystals on her desk to feel safe". After Misenheimer realized USC would not take material action against Voros, he resigned in 2019.
"While the University of David Voros will be stepping down from his teaching position for the time being, the University of David Voros has not resigned from his position as full professor and I understand that he will continue to receive his full salary." Elizabeth Bowen, a lawyer representing Bowers and Misenheimer, told The Daily Beast. "Furthermore, the first allegations against David Voros began in 2016."
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