SAN JOSE, Calif. (Azenith Smith/KTVU) - Classes don't begin until next week but already the fall session is off to a rocky start after faculty learned Wednesday a professor, accused of sexually harassing a student, will be returning to teach.
The professor at the center of these allegations Lewis Aptekar was on paid administrative leave. It’s been lifted. The school said it acted appropriately based on their findings.
“I’m disgusted,” said San Jose State Professor Jason Laker. “I’m outraged. I’m offended. I'm fearful for our students.”
Laker is a professor in the Department of Counselor Education at San Jose State and received a memo stating Aptekar will be returning to campus this semester.
Back in 2015, a graduate student accused Aptekar sexually harassed her. Laker was the student's advisor and said Aptekar made inappropriate remarks he wanted to date her.
“My response to the university's statement I’m calling BS,” said Laker.
He's referring to this statement that the university provided KTVU. It said the allegations eventually were substantiated. Aptekar was suspended for two weeks without pay and had to undergo diversity training. He also stepped down as chair.
It went on to say another allegation came to light from another student from 2014. The school said after an extensive investigation those allegations were not substantiated and no appeals were filed.
Laker believes the school failed its students.
“There's no indication of a sincere commitment or a lawful one to address these issues,” said Laker. “The school protected the harasser. The school rewarded the harasser.”
KTVU reached out to Professor Aptekar and did not hear from him. KTVU did hear from his Attorney Elisa Stewart who said the first investigation was flawed and her client has been vindicated in the last one.
“I understand there's this prior finding against Dr. Aptekar but the complete story is not out there,” said Stewart.
While the attorney's message to students is to trust the process, some said they can't help but be concerned with the uncomfortable environment these accusations have created.
“I think teachers should be people you feel you can go to in any situation and if they feel someone is a predator that takes away that safe space,” said Student Marie Dalporto.
Professor Aptekar is scheduled to teach two graduate level courses. He will not be serving as an academic advisor. The school said that was his decision.