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Idaho State settles sexual harassment suit involving USF professor for $170,000

Dr. Herb Maschner

Times files

Dr. Herb Maschner



A former employee of Idaho State University has settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against the school for $170,000, according to the Idaho State Journal.

In the lawsuit, Kelly Pokorny accused her former Idaho State boss Herb Maschner, now a University of South Florida professor, of forcibly kissing her and grabbing her buttocks in her campus office in 2013.

She also said the university retaliated when she complained by reassigning her to a job in a basement storage room without a computer, phone or specific tasks to accomplish.

The decision to end the lawsuit came in December, the Journal reports, but the final paperwork was finished this month. Maschner was not a defendant in the case.

“All parties are satisfied with the resolution reached,” the university said in a statement. “ISU is committed to the equal treatment, safety and well-being of all of its students and employees.”

Pokorny, then a 28-year-old graduate student, worked as an education coordinator for the university’s Museum of Natural History. Maschner was its director. He gave her unwanted attention for months before groping her, she said.

After Pokorny filed a complaint, she was placed on administrative leave as the school investigated. Officials concluded she was telling the truth. Then she was placed in the basement office.

In 2014, she quit and sued the university for civil and human rights violations. Idaho State failed to have the lawsuit dismissed and, after a trial was scheduled, agreed to settle, according to the Journal.

Maschner, 57, left Idaho State in 2015 for a job at USF, where he would become executive director of the Center for Virtualization and Applied Spatial Technologies.

That title was later stripped from him after he informed USF of the ISU lawsuit and impending media coverage, more than a year after arriving at South Florida.

After pressure from faculty and discussions about Maschner’s future at USF, the university decided to move him to the geosciences department as an instructor.

The change "will facilitate greater productivity and success for him and his colleagues," USF spokeswoman Lara Wade wrote in an email last November.

Faculty also questioned the university’s hiring process, which at that point did not include certain reference checks that are now required by USF policy.

The Gradebook has reached out to Maschner for comment.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:59pm]


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