TOLEDO — A tenured law professor at Ohio Northern University under suspension following allegations of sexual harassment is suing the university.
Vernon Traster filed a lawsuit in federal court saying the university took inappropriate steps to get rid of him because he was at the top of the pay scale. Traster also alleges age and sex discrimination, as well as breach of contract.
He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages including back pay, reinstatement and compensatory damages.
The university responded to the lawsuit saying Traster was suspended for the safety of students and staff. The university said he poses a safety risk.
The University said Traster sexually harassed a student at his home and a staff member at her home. The university said its officials acted within policy and has taken the appropriate steps to deal the matter. The university asked that the case be dismissed.
Traster’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
Traster, 65, has been employed by the university for 36 years. He was placed on unpaid suspension in March following the allegations. University officials have recommend Traster be fired but the decision ultimately is up to the university’s board of trustees, who could take several more months to decide.
Traster said the suspension could leave him in financial ruins and force him to file bankruptcy.
The action against Traster started when a law student came forward in early March alleging Traster sexually harassed her. She said on Feb. 27, he made an inappropriate sexual comment, asked her questions of a sexual nature and inappropriately touched her while she was working at his home on university-related matters, according to court records.
Following that complaint, a staff member came forward saying Traster sexually harassed her. She said Traster called her to see if he could stop by her home to discuss his divorce. He reportedly arrived with alcohol in hand, according to court records.
While talking, the woman said Traster tried to kiss and touch her while telling her what kind of sexual activity he wanted to do with her. She said she had to call a friend for help. The friend threatened to call police if Traster did not leave, according to court records.
The staff member further alleges Traster called her and asked her out following the incident at her home, according to court records.