A college professor allegedly made sexual advances toward a female student, offering her “good grades” in exchange for sexual favors, according to a Brooklyn Federal Court lawsuit.
The student, who goes by the name of Jane Doe in the lawsuit, enrolled in the Human Anatomy and Physiology course taught by Professor Hany Fam during the Fall 2017 semester at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
The student claimed she asked Fam to meet in October 2017 to discuss her grades, according to the lawsuit. The woman, in her 40s, said the married professor, 60, insisted they meet at her Brooklyn apartment.
“Fearing that she would offend her professor and perhaps jeopardize her grade in his class, [she] finally relented,” the lawsuit said.
On Oct. 9, 2017, upon Fam’s arrival at the apartment, he kissed the woman on the cheek while embracing her and gave a bottle of wine and some papers, according to the lawsuit.
Fam told the woman that he “needed a friend, said he was lonely” and described problems in his marriage, the lawsuit states.
Additionally, Fam asked the woman if “she’d sell her body if she didn’t get the grade she wanted in the class,” according to the lawsuit.
He had then repeatedly tried to hold her hand, and unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a scar and claimed to have a heart condition that left him with just a few years to live, the lawsuit said.
When the woman got up to go to the kitchen, Fam followed her, leaned in to hug her and told her to relax, according to the lawsuit. Fam had then poured two glasses of wine and repeatedly encouraged her to drink, but she declined.
Fam asked her why she was so tense, and insisted that he could make things much easier for her, and repeatedly asked if she would be his “friend,” according to the lawsuit.
When the woman had asked if he was referring to sex, Fam confirmed that he did, and suggested they could meet once a week, the lawsuit said.
Fam had also told her that other professors at LaGuardia have had similar arrangements with other students, the lawsuit said.
After the woman refused to be in a sexual relationship, Fam became aggravated and told her that she was “too uptight, that English women are too stiff,” and drew a contrast with “Spanish girls,” the lawsuit said.
Fam told the woman to think about his offer and make a decision about whether she wanted him to “help” her, after handing her questions and answers for a quiz.
Following the uncomfortable meeting at her apartment, the woman felt unsafe in her own home since Fam knew where she lived, and experienced an ongoing fear that she will be subject to another episode of harassment, according to the lawsuit.
The woman had suffered emotional distress, experiencing daily crying episodes, recurring nightmares and difficulty sleeping, headaches, dizziness, nausea shortness of breath and trembling, weight loss and gastrointestinal effect, and hair loss, according to the lawsuit.
In November 2017, the woman reported Fam’s harassment to the Title IX Office, which handles sexual harassment complaints.
In January 2018, LaGuardia concluded that Fam, “offered [her] a good grade in [her] Human Anatomy and Physiology Fall I 2017 class in exchange for sexual favors,” the lawsuit stated.
The woman did not return to Fam’s class and LaGuardia agreed to provide counseling, cover the cost of course materials, and re-enrollment in the class, but they did not remove her withdrawal on her transcript, the lawsuit said.
A spokeswoman for LaGuardia said the college “takes seriously any allegations of sexual misconduct.”
Upon receiving the complaint, Fam was immediately removed from teaching and an investigation was initiated. He was terminated on March 20, 2018, and has not taught at the college since he was first removed.
He is no longer eligible to teach at LaGuardia, according to a statement released from the college.
“Regarding the allegation that this type of behavior is commonplace at LaGuardia, an investigation was conducted and found no evidence that such a culture exists, neither presently nor during the time frame of the investigation,” the spokeswoman said.
The woman is being represented by Brooklyn lawyer Carrie Goldberg and is seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha
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