Former Courier adviser Warren Swil was reinstated as an instructor at the college this Spring and is teaching classes in the Courier newsroom, despite admitting to showing nude photos of himself to a student and facing a lawsuit against alleged sexual harassment and grade retaliation.
Swil was placed on paid administrative leave last March after Courier staff member Raymond Bernal accused Swil of showing him nude photos of himself and unfairly lowering his grades after Bernal turned down Swil’s sexual advances. The incident led to a months-long investigation that concluded with Swil’s reinstatement.
“I’m delighted to be back teaching, but I can’t say anything beyond that,” Swil said.
General Counsel Gail Cooper declined to comment and referred the Courier to Robert Bell, senior vice president of academic and student affairs, who said that Swil is not prohibited from being in the same room as Bernal.
“Professor Swil has been made aware of the requirements of his return to the college faculty, including the clear expectation that he engages in professional behavior and treat all students with respect,” Bell said.
Bernal confirmed that college officials informed him that they had made arrangements in light of his anticipated discomfort in regard to attending classes and working on the newspaper in the same room that Swil will be teaching classes in.
Bernal filed a lawsuit against Swil last month and Swil was served his lawsuit papers while teaching his class on Jan. 16.
According to the allegations, at the beginning of the Spring 2013 semester, Bernal asked Swil how his winter vacation went and was invited into Swil’s office.
After closing the door behind him, Swil told Bernal that he had gone on a boating trip and printed a group of photos to show Bernal that included a naked photo of Swil, according to court documents.
“Swil pointed to the naked picture, smiled, and asked Mr. Bernal what he thought about the picture,” the documents read.
Bernal tried to change the subject after being shown another group of pictures. He alleges that Swil seemed disappointed and said, “Let’s keep this between you and me” as Bernal left the office.
The lawsuit states that Bernal did not immediately report the incident because he was unsure of whether or not Swil had made a sexual advance. Bernal, who had received good grades and praise from Swil prior to the incident, filed a complaint with the college after he allegedly began receiving much lower grades on his assignments and being subjected to harsh criticism in front of the class, according to the documents.
“The conduct of Defendant Swil as herein alleged was despicable and constituted oppression and malice, thus entitling [Bernal] to an award of punitive damages against Defendant Swil,” the lawsuit states.
Bernal referred the Courier to his attorney Kevin Rehwald. “I prefer not to comment and would rather not litigate in the court of public opinion,” Rehwald said.
During Swil’s time on leave, Faculty Association President Roger Marheine sent a letter to Bell arguing that the college had ample time to conduct a thorough investigation and that Swil was being discriminated against.
Marheine’s letter said that Swil also was suffering “financial and emotional harm” because he was not able to be at work.