UNC-Charlotte professor, school system being sued over sexual misconduct allegations

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – A UNC-Charlotte history instructor is being accused by two former students of sexual misconduct, and he’s still teaching at the school.

A federal lawsuit filed by a former student claims religious historian, Robert McEachnie, “groomed” her for months before the two engaged in an intimate relationship during a 2017 summer abroad in Israel, Turkey, and London.

The former student was 21 at the time. The lawsuit also mentions another student who accused McEachnie of inappropriate touching during that same Israel trip.

The lawsuit claims McEachnie “manipulated” the former student in many ways, including encouraging her to share personal and medical information, making “false statements” about his intentions, and showing her other students’ papers with their personal information.

The suit also claims that he made offers to help her get into grad school, pushed her to drop classes, and otherwise psychologically damaged her, and says even after she terminated the relationship in November 2017, it did not end her suffering.

The former student reported McEachnie’s misconduct and their relationship to the school in November 2019.

The lawsuit names McEachnie, UNC-C, and the UNC System as defendants and there are three causes of action.

  1.  Violation of Title IX regarding her right to protection from sexual harassment/conduct at an educational facility that receives federal funding.
  2.  Violation of Civil Rights under the US Constitution in that the ormer student was deprived of personal security and integrity and the University failed to adequately investigate complaints.
  3.  Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

Julie Fosbinder, attorney for the former student says that the case she is filing is analogous to a sexual harassment case in employment law.

“It is very akin to a quid pro quo relationship where an employer says to someone, ‘if you have a sexual relationship with me, I’ll give you a promotion,’ or, ‘if you don’t, I’ll terminate you.’ It’s that same sort of power dynamic,” Fosbinder said.

UNC-Charlotte’s policy on teacher-student relationships states that “It is improper for a faculty member, instructional assistant, or other university employee to participate in the instruction, evaluation, or supervision of a student with whom there is an amorous relationship or familial relationship. Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary procedures.”

It is important to note that the wording of the policy is that it is”improper,” but not forbidden, and “may” result in disciplinary action — not “will.”

FOX 46 reached out to McEachnie’s attorney and the Attorney General who represents the UNC-C and the UNC school system. Neither had any comment.

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