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Op-ed defending former Fresno State president is wrong

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Editorials and other Feeling content present views on problems crucial to our local community and are unbiased from the operate of our newsroom reporters.

Frank Lamas, left, former vice president of student affairs at Fresno State, was the subject of at least 12 complaints of sexual harassment at the university between 2014 and 2019, when Joseph I. Castro, right, was the university president. Castro became chancellor of the California State University system in 2020, but resigned in February 2022 amid questions over his handling of the allegations against Lamas.

Frank Lamas, still left, former vice president of university student affairs at Fresno Condition, was the subject matter of at the very least 12 issues of sexual harassment at the college concerning 2014 and 2019, when Joseph I. Castro, appropriate, was the college president. Castro became chancellor of the California Point out University method in 2020, but resigned in February 2022 amid issues above his managing of the allegations towards Lamas.

One particular of the most-go through tales on The Bee’s website for most of Tuesday was a commentary published by 3 leading Fresnans who made a whole-court docket defense of previous Fresno Condition University President Joseph I. Castro.

He, of course, went on to lead the 23-campus California State College procedure for a yr as chancellor. That came to a screeching halt this past February. That is when United states These days broke a tale about sexual harassment allegations produced versus a best administrator at the university who had been recruited by Castro.

Frank Lamas, the vice president in demand of student affairs, stood accused of a dozen circumstances of harassing girls workforce and students more than a six-yr period. Of the 12 situations, seven of them had been reported straight to Castro. Only just one merited a formal investigation mainly because that female pupil agreed to file her allegation with the campus’ Title IX office environment, as protocol required.

Somewhat than discipline or fire Lamas, Castro worked out a golden handshake offer that paid Lamas a year’s salary, $260,000, as well as retirement rewards in trade for his resignation and departure. Lamas still left Fresno Point out at the close of 2020, and just months afterwards, Castro was employed to lead the CSU.

Just more than a year following that, the United states These days story broke on Feb. 3. On Feb. 17, the CSU trustees resolved to let Castro go, the controversy owning grown too major for him to prevail over.

That is what acquired the ire of the authors of the hottest commentary in The Bee. Creating in protection of Castro had been Michael Der Manouel Jr., a Republican activist and local businessman Fresno Metropolis Councilmember Luis Chavez and Lisa Smittcamp, district attorney for Fresno County. Der Manouel and Chavez are both equally Fresno Condition graduates.

Their key position: That the CSU trustees gave in to the “mob” who demanded Castro’s departure, which happened “without proof of any wrongdoing …”

By voicing that feeling, the trio without doubt expressed the sentiment of lots of in Fresno who experienced come to enjoy, even cherish, Castro whilst he led the university.

But far from staying in a hurry to judgment, the CSU trustees would have been derelict in their duty to the program not to have experienced Castro stage down.

The op-ed authors characterize Castro’s downfall a further bit of “woke” progressive politics harming a good chief. But not only is that check out completely wrong, it muddies the actuality that Castro sealed his have destiny with how he handled harassment statements at Fresno Point out.

Castro did not offer rightly with Lamas, he received uncovered, and paid out the rate.

Serious victims

It is understandable if Castro’s close friends and acquaintances in Fresno experience like it all happened so fast. It did.

Der Manouel, Chavez and Smittcamp stage out how Castro did so much superior while at Fresno State. He gave nonstop help to first-era students who attended the university, for he was just like them.

That is what helps make Castro’s downfall tragic. He is a dazzling, passionate chief who did many good matters at Fresno State.

But the trio’s op-ed pays no respect to the victims of harassment. That these kinds of abuse truly transpired was borne out by an investigation by an employment lawyer employed by Fresno Point out at the time the Title IX criticism was submitted.

Her summary: Of the 26 current and former staff of Lamas she spoke to, 13 mentioned they had witnessed Lamas make sexist opinions, contact gals inappropriately, or close his business window blinds while on your own with them. 3 ladies claimed they experienced caught Lamas staring at their breasts, and a few some others mentioned they realized colleagues who would make the similar allegation.

Instead than clear away Lamas from student affairs and place him into a career where he could do no damage, Castro praised Lamas in yearly effectiveness evaluations, endorsed him for a prestigious life span accomplishment award and then compensated Lamas to depart the college.

Correct standpoint

The op-ed authors claimed Castro was the sufferer of “provocative, unsourced and deceptive media ‘reports.’”

The Usa Currently reporter, Kenny Jacoby, undertook a 6-thirty day period investigation that made use of investigative reports, courtroom records, law enforcement reports, emails and personnel documents. He also interviewed important resources at Fresno Condition. The ensuing story was rarely deceptive or lacking sourcing.

The Bee subsequently documented that Castro experienced the moment made use of Lamas for babysitting. That is how shut the two men had been, and how inappropriate that boss-to-subordinate connection had become.

The story of Castro being forced out as CSU chancellor is not one particular of him being a target. Alternatively, he put the welfare of Frank Lamas, and his personal job, forward of the women of all ages personnel and learners impacted by a self-centered vice president.

That is crystal apparent to any individual ready to have more than selective memory. This is why Castro no longer leads the CSU.


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This tale was initially posted April 13, 2022 5:00 AM.

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