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Delta College settles in sexual harassment lawsuit

Associated Press • Jun 18, 2017 at 4:00 PM

BAY CITY — Two students who allege they were sexually harassed by a Delta College professor have dropped their lawsuit against the school in exchange for $195,000.

A judge signed an order in February to dismiss the suit after an out-of-court settlement was reached, the Bay City Times reported. The newspaper recently obtained the agreement, including the financial sum, through an open records request.

Delta College and the former professor, Jonathan Fonville, maintained their innocence in the settlement.

"The College and Fonville do not admit, and in fact deny any liability or wrongdoing by entering into this Agreement and enter ... solely for economic business reasons and to buy their peace," the settlement states.

Emily Mason and MaCayla Jablonski filed the lawsuit in July 2016, alleging Fonville interfered with their education and "created an intimidating, hostile and offensive sex-based educational environment." The women also alleged the school took inadequate measures to stop it.

The newspaper said it obtained a Title IX investigative summary report from Delta College through a Freedom of Information Act request. The federal law bars exclusion or discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs.

The summary report states that Fonville began interacting with the women on Twitter, often with inappropriate questions and comments. The students followed Fonville on Twitter because he said he intended to use it for classwork.

He was removed from campus in October 2015, after the women filed a complaint with the campus Public Safety Department. The report states that Fonville didn't feel his actions were inappropriate because he felt the students shared with him a similar sense of humor.

Fonville resigned from the college in November 2015 before the investigation was completed.

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