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March 16, 1995

Pitt and professor charged with sexual harassment

A former University employee and graduate student filed sexual harassment charges March 13 against the University and professor Tony Petrosky, who holds joint appointments in the School of Education's Department of Instruction and Learning, and the English department.

In her suit, Lori R. Stilley of Dillsburg, York County, alleges that Petrosky sexually harassed her for more than four years, and then sabotaged her academic career and fired her after she rebuffed his advances. "The University does not believe the complaint to be true," Director of Communications Ken Service said. "We're prepared to defend it in court and expect to prevail. Because it is in litigation, that's really all we can say about it." Pitt is named in the suit because Petrosky's supervisors allegedly knew about the problem but failed to take action. The suit seeks unspecified damages of more than $25,000.

According to the suit filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, Stilley enrolled in the School of Education in fall 1989. In January 1990, the suit alleges, Petrosky and Stilley met to discuss her academic future and in March 1990, she began working for Petrosky as a graduate student researcher.

One year later, in March 1991, according to the suit, Stilley was elevated to faculty status as a research associate, a position she held until her termination by Petrosky in May 1994.

In addition to being her employer, the suit notes, Petrosky also was Stilley's academic adviser and chairperson of her dissertation committee.

According to the suit, Petrosky "sought all three of these roles and performed them concurrently" from January 1990 through May 1994, during which time he subjected Stilley to "unwelcome acts of verbal and physical sexual harassment and sexual discrimination." When Stilley refused Petrosky's advances, the suit alleges, Petrosky "began a continuous course of conduct designed to sabotage [Stilley's] efforts and undertakings through the creation of a hostile and intimidating environment, which culminated with the termination of [Stilley's] employment."

–Mike Sajna

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