Professor and former chairman of the WCU chemistry department, Jamal Ghoroghchian, was found guilty of sexually harassing a former student by an eight member jury. The three day trial took place in U.S. District Judge Clarence C. Newcomer’s courtroom.Jurgita Pociute, a former West Chester University student from Lithuania, claimed that Ghoroghchian had repeatedly harassed her in the form of trying to touch and kiss her. He also reportedly grabbed her head, pushing it towards his lap. According to Pociute, the professor offered to trade sex for better grades.
Pociute, growing confused and upset with her falling grades, didn’t take action until she saw Ghoroghchian harassing another female student in his office. Fearing no one would believe the allegations, Pociute rented a small video camera concealed in a notebook and recorded another incident with the professor on Jan. 26, 2001.
The film, while not the best quality, showed the professor’s hand going towards Pociute’s breast.
Ghoroghchian admitted that his hand may have accidentally touched Pociute’s breast, but denied any wrongdoing. The tape, however, was enough to convince the jury of his guilt.
The jury found the professor financially liable to Pociute for one day of sexual harassment and emotional distress. The damages were assessed at $120,000.
The University had already found Ghoroghchian in violation of the school’s sexual harassment policy. WCU gave the professor a confidential letter of reprimand and ordered him to attend a private training session on sexual harassment.
Nancy C. DeMis, Pociute’s attorney, told The Daily News, “It’s a tragedy for everyone. I’m sure it is a tragedy for his [Ghoroghchian’s] family.”
A University representative declined to comment to The Daily News and George C. Zumbano, Ghoroghchian’s attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment.