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GMU prevails in sexual harassment case

A federal judge has dismissed all claims against George Mason University and the dean of its law school in a sexual harassment case brought by a woman formerly employed by a GMU legal clinic.

Kyndra Rotunda had sued the university, saying she was subjected to retaliation and pay discrimination after she rebuffed sexual advances by the clinic's executive director, according to this account in the American Bar Association Journal. The lawsuit alleges the university knowingly tolerated the harassment.


Two weeks before trial, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled Friday from the bench that Rotunda "had not presented sufficient evidence to get to a jury" on any of her claims, according to a release from the Covington & Burling lawfirm, which defended the university.

Jeffrey Huvelle, lead defense attorney, said in the statement that Rotunda's "most provocative allegations were contradicted by her own writings."

Rotunda's claims centered on Joseph Zengerle, a George Mason law professor and former assistant Air Force secretary who was her supervisor.

A previous account in the Washington Times portrayed the case as part of a "several-year battle" between Zengerle, a "West Point graduate and Airborne Ranger Infantry officer in Vietnam who founded the university's Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers," and Rotunda, "former lawyer in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Office and a prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay Office of Military Commissions, who was hired as the clinic's director."

Rotunda and her husband Ron Rotunda now work at Chapman University law school in Orange County, California.

Apparently, a trial is still scheduled. It will now focus on a sole remaining count, of assault and battery. Rotunda alleges Zerlenge "bumped into her" as he left work one day, according to an attorney quoted in the ABA account.

The case has involved 100,000 pages of discovery and 100 hours of depositions, according to the law journal.

Daniel Polsby, dean of the GMU law school, kindly alerted me to the ruling but declined comment, saying he'd spoken his piece to the ABA reporter. In that article.

"Actually, to tell you the truth, I was looking forward to my day in court. Now it looks like I'll have that day off. I'm pleased with that, too."

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By Daniel de Vise  |  May 26, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  Administration , Litigation  | Tags: GMU harassment suit, GMU law professor, george mason lawsuit, george mason sexual harassment suit  
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Looks like Ms. Rotunda may not hit the big jackpot she was hoping for.

Posted by: checkered1 | May 26, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The second paragraph of this blog posting contains the following statement: "The article states that the university knowingly tolerated the harassment."

Um, no, not at all. The article states that the plaintiff ALLEGES that the university knowingly tolerated the harassment. But the plaintiff provided no evidence of this, according to the judge.

I suggest that you amend the erroneous statement.

Posted by: mk14617 | May 26, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

any jury in the country would rule against a woman named "rotunda" in a sexual harrasment case.
she should of changed her name to smith before filing the papers.

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 27, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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