Montana Supreme Court Sides With Montana State in Faculty Misconduct Case

September 18, 2018

The Montana Supreme Court sided with Montana State University in a five-year-old case brought by a student who said a professor harassed and raped her, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. The ruling, issued last week, overturned a lower court judge’s decision that Montana State was negligent in its employment of Shuichi Komiyama, a former professor of music there. Five of seven judges on the Supreme Court said that a district court judge erred in ruling that the university’s destruction of some email evidence -- intentional or not -- meant that the student should win her case without it going to trial, according to the Chronicle. The case was ordered back to district court.

Komiyama’s department reportedly counseled him for bullying in 2009 and was repeatedly warned about allegations of his past misconduct involving students, including the fact that the Billings School District had banned him from its campuses after he was accused of sexting underage students. The student plaintiff in the case reported Komiyama for misconduct in 2011, and he was barred from campus. Montana State at one point offered not to tell future employers about the investigation if Komiyama resigned, but case became public anyway. Komiyama eventually resigned.

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