Over the course of three years, University of Georgia professor Michael Holosko was investigated by the Equal Opportunity Office three separate times for sexual harassment allegations.
Two of these investigations resulted in violations of UGA’s Non-Discrimination Anti-Harassment Policy. Despite multiple violations, he continued to teach at the university for more than two years after the final case concluded in 2015.
The Red & Black found the details of Holosko’s cases in EOO records obtained through multiple open records requests. There was one other employee, Richard Suplita, who was found in violation of the NDAH policy more than once.
Suplita received a recommendation to leave the university after his second violation. Holosko was never asked to leave the university because of his violations, and he retired of his own accord in May, the university spokesperson said.
The details of Suplita’s cases are discussed in our full investigation, “Harassment in the Classroom.”
Holosko was found in violation of the NDAH policy for sexual harassment twice, according to formal NDAH findings letters from the EOO. He was required to attend a NDAH training session and write an apology to students after his first violation in 2012. Other professors were instructed to double check his grading to ensure no retaliation.
All of Holosko’s cases have been handled by Janyce Dawkins, director of the EOO. Dawkins wrote in the 2012 resolution letter that Holosko “made comments of a sexual nature that were sufficient to create a hostile environment,” therefore violating the NDAH policy.
According to the 2012 letter, Dawkins interviewed 11 of Holosko’s students to investigate the claims made about him, 10 of whom said the comments were not appropriate for the classroom.
Five of the 11 “altered their attendance and arrival to the class in an effort to avoid exposure to [Holosko’s] comments.” Two students altered their seating arrangements and one student changed how she dressed “in order to appear more unattractive as to avoid [his] comments on her appearance,” Dawkins said.
Holosko was reported again, during fall 2014, because of allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in interactions with students. Following an investigation, Dawkins concluded Holosko had not violated the NDAH policy. Dawkins mentioned in the case’s resolution letter that this was Holosko’s second investigation.
“I caution you again to be mindful of your comments and how they may affect your students,” Dawkins wrote in that letter.
The third time Holosko was reported was in 2015, and he was found in violation of the policy after the investigation. The final resolution letter went into further detail than the previous two letters about the exact allegations of sexual harassment. In addition to comments with a sexual nature, a claim was made that he force fed cake to a student.
“[The student] had the impression that it was some sort of power struggle,” Dawkins wrote in this resolution letter. “I find that you did force REDACTED to eat from your hand.”
Dawkins also explained in that letter how the nature of the comments Holosko was accused of seemed like a pattern of behavior.
“One instance in isolation could generally be explained as a misunderstanding,” Dawkins wrote in this resolution letter. “However, this pattern of offensive language with sexual subtext cannot be dismissed as mere misunderstanding or a play on words given your use of this explanation as a repeated defense.”
After this third accusation, Dawkins’ findings letter said Holosko was required to annually attend NDAH policy training, instructed to keep his office door open “or at least cracked” while students were there and would no longer be assigned any female graduate assistants.
"This pattern of offensive language with sexual subtext cannot be dismissed as mere misunderstanding or a play on words given your use of this explanation as a repeated defense.”
- Janyce Dawkins, Director of EOO in Holosko's last resolution letter
In addition to these sanctions, Dawkins warned Holosko another violation of the NDAH policy could result in suspension or termination.
After reaching out multiple times, Holosko never responded to requests for comment on this article.
The Red & Black asked to speak with the EOO about how they investigate cases and determine sanctions but was only told by the university spokesperson it was on a “case-by-case basis.”
After attempts to clarify if there was any kind of method to determining sanctions after a violation was found, the university referred The Red & Black to its previous answer and the NDAH website which does not explain how sanctions are determined.