Education

Sacramento State pays $123,000 to settle lawsuit alleging harassment by president’s son

Sacramento State has agreed to pay an employee $123,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging he was sexually harassed by the university president’s son.

The employee, Jeffrey Sharp, agreed to resign from his position and never apply again for a job in the California State University system.

Sharp filed a lawsuit in March 2013 alleging that Alexander Gonzalez Jr. touched him and made suggestive actions and offensive comments when they worked together in the Office of University Advancement, which raises funds for the university. Sharp said he faced retaliation from his supervisor for reporting the abuse.

The university and Gonzalez Jr. filed a response denying the allegations and said that Sharp did not follow the proper procedure for filing complaints. Nancy Sheehan, an attorney representing the university, said in 2013 that the CSU Chancellor’s Office conducted “a thorough, objective investigation” and that the complaints weren’t substantiated.

The settlement, signed Feb. 11, said that both Sharp and Gonzalez Jr. acknowledge that neither was sexually harassed by the other and that California State University, Sacramento, had not failed to prevent sexual harassment. It also released the parties from future liability related to the lawsuit.

Each party agreed to pay its own attorney’s fees and other costs associated with the lawsuit. The settlement came less than a month before the suit was scheduled for a jury trial.

“The resolution was reached as part of a mandatory settlement conference process,” according to a joint statement from all parties. “While both sides were ready and willing to take the case to trial, they recognize the benefit of avoiding the considerable expense associated with a three-week trial and the preparation leading up to it.”

The agreement didn’t allow for any further comment from the parties.

Sharp left his job as a temporary full-time administrative analyst in the Office of University Advancement in 2012 and was working as of late 2013 as a permanent, full-time communications specialist in alumni relations at the university. University officials Friday did not confirm his last position at Sacramento State, but an online directory still listed him as a “development associate” in alumni relations.

Gonzalez Jr. left his position as director of development in the Advancement Office in 2012 and accepted a position outside the university system. The university hired Alexander Gonzalez Jr. in 2005 as an associate director of development – a $72,000-a-year fundraising job.

His father, Alexander Gonzalez, is retiring as university president at the end of this school year after 12 years.

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.

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