A Stony Brook history professor has been accused of sexually degrading a former student in a lawsuit filed against him, the University and SUNY.
The $3 million lawsuit, filed by 24-year-old Erin Mosier in Manhattan federal court last week, states that associate professor of history, Larry Frohman, “began a campaign of demeaning and degrading sex discrimination against Mosier.”
The suit alleges that from 2016-2017 Frohman — who was Mosier’s undergraduate advisor and professor at the time — made lewd, sexually charged comments toward her in front of the entire class. On one occasion, Frohman told Mosier “I’m going to slap you across your ass for not being a good girl,” the suit states. Another time, Frohman told Mosier “What would calm me down is taking you through a ride on the beaver car wash with me,” referring to performing a sexual act on her, according to the suit.
Mosier’s blonde hair allegedly made her a target for Frohman. “You have to prove to me you are not just an airhead dumb blonde with a pretty face,” he once told Mosier, according to the lawsuit. Mosier became “so uncomfortable with her appearance that she changed her hair color from blonde to brown,” the suit said.
Before filing the lawsuit, Mosier made several attempts to resolve her problems, meeting with the chair of the history department, the assistant provost and filing a Title IX complaint according to the lawsuit.
Despite this, the suit states that “Stony Brook’s response to Mosier’s complaint was completely inadequate and demonstrated that rather than addressing Frohman’s conduct, its main focus was on protecting the university against Mosier, who Stony Brook improperly viewed as the problem.”
For instance, the suit claims that in a meeting with history professor Sara Lipton and history department chair Paul Gootenberg, Gootenberg responded to Mosier’s complaints about Frohman by asking her, “What is your appearance and how are you acting to be treated like this?”
Gootenberg also told Mosier “You are like the fifth person this semester to come to me about Professor Frohman and I have heard and know things about him, but this is just way out of hand and I can’t keep covering for him,” according to the suit.
When asked for his comment, Gootenberg said the first quote attributed to him is “completely untrue” and the second is exaggerated.
The suit also claims that Mosier’s Title IX case was mishandled, taking 6 months to complete when it should have taken 60 days. Months before the case was closed, Mosier was told by a Title IX representative “we cannot guarantee your safety,” the suit said.
Aside from the allegations of verbal harassment, Frohman has also been accused of giving preferential treatment to his male students.
Mosier and one of her male classmates worked on assignments together and checked each other’s work, yet the male student consistently received higher grades than her, the suit said.
Frohman showed Mosier a list of grades at the end of the year and while all the male students in his class had A and B+ grades, the female students all received C’s and D’s, according to the suit.
Frohman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
SUNY press secretary, Holly Liapis provided the following statement: “We have not received the lawsuit, and therefore cannot comment on the allegations contained. We take these matters seriously and vigorously investigate complaints.”
Stony Brook University deferred request for comment to SUNY.
Correction: August 14, 2018
Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story said the lawsuit filed was for $33 million. It was actually filed for $3 million.