Originally created 07/04/05

UGA says dean broke policy on harassment



ATHENS, Ga. - The dean of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication made comments that a reasonable person could have interpreted as sexual advances, in violation of the University of Georgia's nondiscrimination and anti- harassment policy, according to an internal investigation.

The investigation, conducted through the university's office of legal affairs, found that Dean John Soloski's comments created "a hostile or offensive working environment," though the findings did not indicate that Dr. Soloski intended the comments as sexual.

A female staff member filed a claim in May alleging that Dr. Soloski sexually harassed and retaliated against her. The fact that he was the woman's supervisor makes the situation "more significant for the university than if this were peer-to-peer harassment," the investigation findings said.

As a result of the investigation's findings, Dr. Soloski must take sexual-harassment training from the university by Jan. 1.

Dr. Soloski, who announced Tuesday that he will resign his deanship, denies any wrongdoing and said Wednesday that he will appeal the findings of the investigation.

The investigation did not allow him the rights he would have in a judicial process, he said, denying him the opportunity to "mount any type of defense."

The incident in question, Dr. Soloski said, happened in Atlanta as he was leaving a black-tie university fund-raising event to meet a woman for a dinner date.

As he was leaving, he said, he saw a woman he had worked with for three years, someone he considers a friend, "wearing a very attractive dress, and she is a very attractive woman."

He commented on her dress but "did not mean it in any sexual way," he said.

Dr. Soloski also asked the woman whether she was alone because he was concerned for her safety, he said.