Can I sue my old college for the economics degree I feel I was robbed of due to sexual harassment by my academic counselor?

Asked over 5 years ago - Orange, CA

I feel after finding a series of semi-nude photos taken of me by my academic counselor in his on-campus office that this along with other less obvious actions 1st derailed my effort to successfully advance in my studies then eventually caused me to drop out of college altogether. This happend over a 4 year period while attending a well known university in Los Angeles during the late 1980's. I'd already completed my 2 year AA degree from a junior college and transferred to this well known 4 year institution. This counselor eventually retired about 6 years ago I've been told. He was a gay male. He said he was gay because his uncle raped him at a young age. I am heterosexual and always have been. I just found the photos and this of course brought back bad memories. I also have a 12 month calender that was sold in the school book store that he did and I was "one of the months". He kept saying I should model, that I was not getting any younger, and he could take more professional photos of me at his house where he had a studio. I was not interested because he showed me photos of other students he had taken and they were very suggestive semi-nude photos (always male) some to the point of holding a small cloth over a certain body part. I was constantly coming in and out of the university and upon each try at success I was met by this counselor and he alone chose my class schedule. I was often encouraged to take classes that I was either not prepared for or had not taken the pre-requisite classes needed before enterring his recommended classes. When I failed miserably he was always there to "comfort me" with his close hugs and gentle kisses on my cheek as I cried like a little kid out of total frustration. I would "withdraw" instead of taking the bad grades (his idea) and would then pay tuition again and again to re-enroll. I even attended summer session which again he helped me with. He eventually pulled strings to allow me to re-enter after I withdrew too many times. Sometimes I just took the bad grades and went on academic probation which he would of course guide me through to his advantage it now seems. I must've paid over $20,000 in tuition, all on my credit cards. I really needed a big kick in the ass and some tough talk instead of being basically taken advantage of I feel. I even asked another counselor to give me some advice and help me figure out what the heck I was doing wrong but when he saw this other counselor was the last person to help me I was quickly sent right back to his office. He'd build my class schedule which was often over my head. I'd fail at completing the course work which forced me to withdraw or take academic probation which he'd help me with and get me back in. I'd pay tuition again and the cycle would repeat itself. This harassing counselor was the boss of all of the other counselors it turns out. I now see the manipulation clear as day but wonder if it is too late to do anything about this. I was a fabulous student before attending this university, graduating in the top 5% of my high school class (and a 3.0 in JC). Not having this economics degree has certainly held me back in my career advancement. I eventually opened my own car dealership but still would like to have this degree I was quietly robbed of. I don't feel I could sue for lost wages because I could have resumed studies at another school. I do feel however I could prove he harrassed me to the point of my quiting this school and I am owed my degree from that school. What do you think? I have the photos. I might be reaching to call them semi-nude but I do have my shirt off so to me that is 1/2 nude. If I were a female and being photographed in a bra or bikini top on campus in a counselor's office this would easily be deemed inappropriate and legally actionable I feel. But because I am a male I just don't know. I am tempted to just go there and tell the ombudsman my gripe but wanted your input first. Thanks

Additional information

I do realize I was an adult when this happened. I just wondered if because I was a student at the college and this counselor took complete control of my academic advancement that he is also responsible for my failure as a student. It seemed pretty caluculated to me looking back. I trusted his advice and feel he used this trust to his advantage as long as he could. He did not ''counsel me' as he was supposed to.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Richard Forrest Gould-Saltman

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . Sounds like it's too late.

    You say that these events occurred in "the 80's", so that would mean no more recently than nineteen years ago, If you finished an AA degree before these events happened, you were, probably, an adult before any of it happened.

    There's a statute of limitations for any such claims, and adults don't have any "tolling" provisions to "stop the clock", unless they're mentally or psychiatrically disabled.

  2. Brian Richard Dinday

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . That is certainly a tragic and nasty story, and it is obvious how much harm he did you, based upon your still suffering anguish over it after 20 years, but I am sorry to say, I see no basis for any legal action at all. Whatever rights you might have had on this problem, they expired long ago. I would suggest instead getting counseling so you can somehow let go and move on emotionally. This is a good example of how sexual abuse is the "gift that keeps on giving", as it is passed on like a disease. Lastly, even if you could sue now, you would only be re-opening the wounds and harming your reputation.

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