A University of Central Florida professor is being placed under the spotlight after a student has come forward claiming he sexually harassed her. But, unlike most cases that involve an educator who behaves inappropriately toward a student, this professor was still permitted to work. Jenny Totcky, who is the woman who has spoken out, believes this is due to the system being flawed. After she had filed a complaint against the professor and realized no real action was taken, she was determined to raise awareness on the issue.

9 Investigates reported that Totcky, who graduated in December, had always felt Professor John Heil’s behavior seemed a bit inappropriate. She decided to submit some photos back in 2015 after working for months at UFC’s Theatre Scene Shop. The photos were sent to Title IX and they were of other students depicting Heil’s unusual behavior. One showed “a female student hanging on his back and him holding onto that student’s bare leg.” Another image showed his hands wrapped around a student who was sitting on his lap. The photos were only one component of the complaint Totcky filed against Heil.

According to other statements, Heil also invited Totcky to stay with him at a hotel during an out-of-town theatre conference. He told her that it would be OK to do so seeing that it would only be him in the room. Totcky also mentioned that Heil told her he found it difficult to communicate with her because “it was hard to look at her because she was so pretty.”

UCF Title IX did conduct an interview with Heil 10 months after the complaint was filed and he did admit to those accusations. He also said that he would let his students give him back rubs, tickle him, and even sit on his lap. All forms of behavior that are completely unacceptable.  While Totcky was under the impression that Heil would be reprimanded harshly, to her surprise, he was only required to undergo sexual harassment training, receive some supervision around students, and was given a written reprimand. He wasn’t taken out of the classroom nor did his case go public.

Florida’s State Universities Rarely Fire Employees Who Engage in Sexual Harassment

As shocking as that sounds, after 9 Investigates dug a little deeper, the source found that many of the universities in FL don’t require that an employee is fired the first time they are found to have sexually harassed a student. In fact, each case is handled on its “merit and circumstances.” Florida State University faculty and staff are able to commit up to three offenses before dismal according to their policy and many other universities appear to tolerate the behavior also. The source also pointed out that there were 31 Title IX sexual harassment investigations between 2015 and 2017 that names employees as the culprit, yet none of those cases led to a staff member being fired.

Although the #MeToo movement has made much progress in addressing the issue of sexual harassment, still, there are many cases that aren’t handled properly. And when a person has been victimized by someone else and their complaints aren’t taken seriously, their next step should be to consult with a Florida sexual harassment lawyer. Not always will a victim need to take legal action, but a FL sexual misconduct attorney can definitely provide some insight into what their rights are and how to go about holding a perpetrator accountable for their actions.