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Stony Brook University professor sued by former student

The Stony Brook announcement came a day after

The Stony Brook announcement came a day after the president, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., gave the 2018 State of the University address. Credit: Barry Sloan

A Stony Brook University graduate has brought a lawsuit in federal court against the school and one of her former professors, alleging she was discriminated against based upon her sex.

Erin Mosier, 24, who graduated from Stony Brook in May, says in court papers that her academic adviser and history professor Lawrence Frohman “began a campaign of demeaning and degrading sex discrimination” against her, affecting her emotionally and academically, according to the complaint filed Aug. 9 in federal court in Manhattan.

Mosier, represented by Brian Adam Heller of the Manhattan-based firm Schwartz Perry & Heller, also says Stony Brook administrators “permitted and condoned” the alleged discrimination, according to the 21-page complaint. The lawsuit names Frohman, the university and the State University of New York system as defendants.

Heller did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

“We take these matters seriously and vigorously investigate complaints,” SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis said in an email.

Both SUNY and the nearly 26,000-student public university, in separate emailed statements, said they do not comment on pending litigation.

“The University does have policies and procedures in place to fully investigate claims that are brought to our attention,” according to an emailed statement from Stony Brook.

Frohman is represented by attorney Alan E. Sash of the Manhattan-based firm McLaughlin & Stern. Sash, in an email, said he could not comment because he had not been served with a copy of the lawsuit.

Mosier was subjected to “continuous, unwelcome, humiliating, and reprehensible sex discrimination that was permitted and condoned by Stony Brook,” according to the complaint, which alleges that the university knew about Frohman’s “propensity for inappropriate conduct."

She is seeking a jury trial and $3 million, as well as damages for “emotional distress, loss of educational opportunities, economic injuries and other direct and consequential damages,” according to the complaint.

Mosier enrolled at Stony Brook in fall 2015 after graduating from Nassau Community College in spring 2015 with an associate degree in adolescent education, according to the complaint.

With plans to become a teacher, she took a class with Frohman that fall. In spring 2016, she joined the university’s Social Studies Education Program, for which Frohman was the undergraduate adviser, according to the complaint.

In the lawsuit, Mosier said Frohman made “humiliating” and sexually inappropriate statements during office hours and during class. In examples included in the complaint, she said he called her a “dumb blonde” and that he said, “You will only get positions in life if you use your body."

The complaint also alleges that Frohman favored male students over females, giving males better grades.

Mosier said in the lawsuit that her grades suffered and she sought counseling for distress and anxiety. She felt so uncomfortable that she also changed her hair color from blond to brown, according to the complaint.

After reaching out to other professors, who she said in court papers did not take action, Mosier in April 2017 filed a complaint with Stony Brook’s Title IX office, which investigated the claims under the federal civil-rights law that bans gender discrimination.

The university came up with a safety plan, which, according to the complaint, only involved Mosier calling 911.

In October 2017, according to the complaint, the Title IX office contacted Mosier, saying the case was closed and that the allegations were “substantiated.” No clear actions were taken by the university, the lawsuit says.

Frohman is listed on Stony Brook’s website as an associate professor in the history department. He also is listed as a visiting scholar for the 2018-19 school year at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according to the center’s website.

Harvard did not return a request for comment regarding Frohman's employment status.

Stony Brook officials, asked if he still is employed by Stony Brook, reiterated in an email: "University does not comment on matters in litigation."

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Dec. 14 before U.S. District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan, according to the most recent filings in the case.

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