Student Sues Nevada College, Claiming Sex Class Assignments Equaled Harassment

PHOTO: A student at Western Nevada College is suing the school and her instructor after she claims students were told they would not passed the class unless the masturbated and kept a journal, among other assignments that required personal sexual disclosuPlaywnc.edu
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Students taking a human sexuality course at Western Nevada College were allegedly required to masturbate, keep sex journals for class discussion and share personal details of their sexual histories, including sexual abuse, for a term paper as a requirement for a passing grade, according to a federal lawsuit filed by a student.

Karen Royce filed suit in U.S. District Court on of Nevada on June 25 against class instructor Tom Kubistant, department chairman Robert Morin and college president Carol Lucey after they allegedly dismissed her complaints that the class assignments were invasive and constituted sexual harassment.

"Not only was she shocked by the assignments [and] the personal inquiries, but she herself had been a victim of sexual abuse. One of his requests was that people put in writing if they'd had sexual-abuse experiences," said Royce's attorney, Ken McKenna. "How the authorities for this college could allow this man to conduct his class in this fashion and in effect say that's OK with us is so outrageous it's beyond belief."

Royce had returned to school to pursue a career as a social worker. She enrolled in Kubistant's human sexuality course to gain "knowledge as to psychological theories of human sexuality," which she believed were "pertinent and necessary in excelling as a social worker," the lawsuit states.

At no point did Royce believe disclosing intimate details was going to be a class requirement, McKenna said, although students were required to sign a waiver acknowledging the course's graphic content before the course began, according to the lawsuit.

On the first day of class, after Kubistant locked the door to, he said, bar latecomers, he told the students, some of whom were in high school taking the class for college credit, that he would "increase their sexual urges to such a height that they won't be able to think about anything other than sex," according to the lawsuit.

Kubistant then had the students compile lists about different types of sex and sexual positions, which he read aloud to the class before he assigned homework: three 250-word journal entries detailing each student's sexual thoughts.

All entries were to be turned in to the instructor and would be graded on content, punctuation and spelling, according to the lawsuit.

Kubistant also introduced the final exam term paper, called "A Sexual Case Study ... You!" in which students would be required to describe their sexual exploration, any sexual-abuse they had experienced, losing their virginity, cheating, arousal, climaxes and fetishes, to name a few of the assignment points.

After Royce expressed her concerns to Kubistant and found him unresponsive, she informed school authorities that she found the assignments tantamount to sexual harassment. An investigator reviewed the course syllabus and assignments, and interviewed students, said Anne Hansen, a spokeswoman for Western Nevada College.

"The investigator found no evidence to support the student's complaint of sexual harassment," Hansen said in a statement to ABCNews.com that was crafted with the college's legal counsel. "In fact, the investigator found that the instructor was considered to be an excellent and caring professor, who, with the exception of that one student, appeared to be universally admired by other students who had taken the course."

After attending four class sessions, Royce dropped the elective course.

On Dec. 8, 2011, Hansen said the college received a letter from the U. S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, to which Royce had appealed after the college's investigation, notifying it that a complaint had been filed against the college for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination because of the assignments in Kubistant's human sexuality course.

After reviewing the college's own investigation, the Office of Civil Rights wrote in a Jan. 25, 2012, letter that it deferred to the college's decision and would not be pursuing the allegations any further, Hansen said.

Undeterred, Royce filed her federal suit. McKenna said it could take up to a year for the case to reach a court room, but he hopes the school will terminate Kubistant.

"I think he needs to be terminated. He has crossed so many ethical, legal and moral boundaries," McKenna said. "My mind immediately went to the question is he grooming these young 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds so he can have further contact with them outside the school environment? His behavior borders on perversion."

Royce is continuing to pursue her education, but McKenna said her experience in the human sexuality class was a "setback."

"It was a shocking experience and altered her perception of current education," he said. "She still is shocked by the fact the school is willing to accept this kind of behavior."

Kubistant did not ABCNews.com's request for comment. He is still teaching at the college.