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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, February 7, 2002

UH to pay $138,000 to settle sex suit

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau Chief

The University of Hawai'i has reached a settlement with a student who said she was sexually harassed by her UH-Hilo biology professor in 1998.

The university agreed to pay more than $138,000 to settle a lawsuit by Tammy Silva, who charged associate biology professor John Scott touched her breasts, sent her pornographic material by e-mail and offered to give her good grades in exchange for sexual favors.

A seven-month investigation by the university found there was no sexual harassment in the case, but there was an "inappropriate relationship," according to testimony submitted to lawmakers this week.

Robert Crudele, Silva's lawyer, said a settlement was also reached to close out claims against Scott, but the terms of that settlement are confidential.

Silva said the university showed deliberate indifference to discrimination by taking seven months with the inquiry, and charged that the university had information about prior sexual harassment by Scott and failed to address the problem.

Lawyers for Scott and the UH argued that there was no sexual harassment and that the university responded properly to the allegations.

A jury was unable to reach a verdict in a federal court trial last year, and the two sides renewed settlement negotiations after the case ended in a mistrial.