Settlement reached between UNCC, former student in sexual misconduct lawsuit

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A sexual misconduct settlement has been reached between UNC Charlotte and a former student.

In the lawsuit, the former student claimed her history professor took advantage of her psychological conditions and groomed her for a sexual relationship.

She reported it to the school and claims the university didn’t do enough about it.

Channel 9 has learned the two parties settled for $40,000.

Lawsuit accuses UNCC professor of sexual misconduct

The lawsuit against UNC Charlotte claims history professor Dr. Robert McEachnie groomed the student for a sexual relationship.

The former student’s attorney, Julie Fosbinder, told Channel 9 that academic attention turned romantic with secret communication using code names on Twitter and other social media sites.

The lawsuit claims McEachnie took advantage of the female student’s serious psychological conditions and showed her other students’ papers, such as grades and detailed assessments of academic work, implying he could do the same with her private information.

During a study abroad trip to Israel in 2017, Fosbinder said McEachnie’s relationship with her client became physical.

Fosbinder said her client ended the relationship once they returned to the U.S., and she reported it to the department chair. Her client also found out she wasn’t the only student to complain, but the other student’s complaint was not investigated.

“It never went anywhere,” Fosbinder said. “It probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day, but for a year and a half later, my client decided to come forward.”

According to the lawsuit, the department chair stated that he failed to take action because he had misunderstood his obligations under the applicable university policy.

UNC Charlotte’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit stated that the university disciplined McEachnie, but it did not detail what actions were taken.

McEachnie was still teaching while the university’s lawyers tried to get the case dismissed.

University officials would not comment on the lawsuit but said when they receive allegations of a consensual relationship, they investigate to determine if it required disclosure to address any conflicts of interest and to make sure there’s no quid pro quo harassment.

Channel 9 also reached out to McEachnie’s lawyer but never heard back.

According to UNC Charlotte, since the summer of 2018, one other faculty member has been investigated under Title IX, the federal law that makes it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of sex in any federally funded activity like public universities.

That faculty member was found in violation and no longer works at UNC Charlotte.

This lawsuit wasn’t the only recent case alleging inappropriate behavior by a professor.

Attorney John Reckenbeil represents a former Clemson University student who said they received inappropriate sexual text messages from a Clemson professor during an internship in Peru.

“This is not your private Tinder app to be able to date students,” Reckenbeil said. “Literally, we should have a no tolerance policy.”

Reckenbeil said the Clemson professor resigned and settled with his client for almost $40,000.

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