Washington State University paid doctoral candidate Christina T. Garcia and her attorney $162,500 last week to settle a 2005 sexual harassment case involving former professor Bernardo Gallegos.
Whitman County Superior Court issued a check Aug. 20 for $96,841 to the law offices of Libey, Ensley, Esser and Nelson in Pullman and one for $65,658 to Garcia. The settlement comes three months after the university paid Gallegos $87,328 for his tenure and his resignation.
"It was in our mutual best interest to resolve the case," said Antoinette M. Ursich, senior assistant attorney general for WSU. She declined to comment further.
Garcia's attorney said they also were satisfied with the settlement.
"We feel we accomplished our objectives. Our work here is done," said Guy C. Nelson, the Pullman lawyer representing Garcia. Garcia originally sought damages of $700,000 from the state of Washington and asked the university to change its sexual harassment policy.
The Board of Regents approved a new policy on sexual harassment at the same May meeting in which they approved Gallegos' resignation.
Nelson said Garcia and state attorneys reached an agreement for the settlement at an all-day meeting in Spokane on June 11.
WSU hired Gallegos in the fall of 2004 to teach a multicultural studies course and organize an international conference on globalization and diversity. Garcia told the university that Gallegos pressured her for a sexual relationship in exchange for academic mentoring and advising.
Garcia filed a complaint with the WSU's Center for Human Rights after a February 2005 incident she described in court documents - a visit to his house when he lit candles and drank wine, touching her inappropriately and asking that she not tell her husband.
The CHR said the university paid for Gallegos to attend sexual harassment training in 2005.
During the course of the case, Garcia paid an expert in sexual harassment to review more than 40 similar complaints made to WSU's Center for Human Rights in recent years.
"Based on the records made available to me, WSU has historically demonstrated a number of serious failings in its approach to the problem of sexual harassment," wrote Louise F. Fitzgerald, a professor of psychology, gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A counselor at WSU interviewed Garcia and determined she had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder with associated panic attacks, a major depressive episode and "profound damage to her graduate education" as a result of the experience, according to court documents.
Garcia is still enrolled in WSU's College of Education, seeking a doctorate in culture studies. Neither Gallegos nor Garcia could be reached for comment.
Amy Gray can be reached at (509) 332-0745 or by e-mail at email@example.com.