The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has rejected photographer Bill Frakes’s appeal in a sexual harassment case, because “clear and convincing evidence” showed he had violated university sexual harassment policies, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald.
Last summer, Frakes lost his position as an adjunct professor at UNL because he had “engaged in sexual misconduct” and “created a hostile environement” for a female student, university investigators concluded in a report obtained by PDN. Frakes appealed the ruling. Last month, the university affirmed the original ruling, the Omaha World-Herald says. The newspaper cited a confidential, 35-page report on the appeal.
Frakes’s violations included “making unwanted comments…regarding female students’ bodies and clothing” and instilling fear that he could “negatively influence” the careers of students, according to the report obtained by PDN last summer. That report said Frakes commented on the appearance of female students, scrolled through photos of “scantily clad” women on a phone while driving with female students in his car, and told students he was not a person to “‘piss off’ and he could ‘end their careers.’”
Journalism student Calla Kessler filed the harassment complaint against Frakes, and other students confirmed her accusations, according to the Omaha World-Herald report and the documents obtained by PDN. In an interview last summer, Kessler said she and other students were initially reluctant to speak out. “We feared retaliation,” she said at the time. With the support of other students and women journalists she contacted through social media, “I felt I had enough support to undergo this grueling process,” she said.
Frakes denied the accusations against him, saying Kessler was retaliating for negative criticism about her work, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The newspaper also said Kessler and Frakes both declined to comment on the appeals ruling because of a confidentiality order.
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