Fordham University Sued By Both A Professor and Student In Bizarre Zoom Class Incident

Fordham University is the subject of two separate lawsuits stemming from a bizarre incident in a Zoom class. Professor Howard Robinson, 69, was accused by a student of masturbating during a virtual class in an academic version of the Jeffrey Toobin controversy. Robinson, however, insists that he not only did not commit the act but could not have done so physically. In the meantime, the student who recorded the incident, Andrea Morin, is suing after flunking the class under a substitute professor. She alleged retaliation.

In her complaint, Morin states:

22. During the class, everyone except Plaintiff went into a breakout room on Zoom as directed by Defendant Robinson.

23. After Defendant Robinson sent all the other students to a breakout room. Plaintiff remained in the main zoom session.

24. During that period, Plaintiff turned away from the screen but then heard noises of a sexual nature in the voice of Defendant Robinson. When Plaintiff turned back to the screen, she then saw Defendant Robinson masturbating on the video. Plaintiff observed Defendant Robinson from above his waist, and observed him for a period of 1.5 minutes, during which time he was shaking, breathing hard, and saying “oh fuck yeah.”

25. Plaintiff recorded the events described in the paragraph above on her cellphone.

26. During the video but after the events described above, Defendant Robinson walked away, then came back calling Plaintiff by her name, asking “Andrea, are you still there?”

27. At that point, Defendant Robinson removed Plaintiff from the Zoom video conference.

Robinson insists that it would have been impossible for him to engage in the act due to erectile dysfunction: “No, I was not masturbating. The thought of masturbating was the furthest thing from my mind. I was totally focused on teaching…It might be hard for other people to get it. For a 69-year-old with a medical issue, I have to deal with it.”

Robinson sued the school over the failure to afford him due process in adjudicating the dispute, including being barred from attending the hearing. In his  Sept. 16 petition in Bronx Superior Court, Robinson insisted that his erectile dysfunction and low testosterone levels make it “virtually impossible for him to get an erection or masturbate.”  The Petition represents that what Morin actually saw was Robinson “grimacing and shifting his weight in his seat as he rushed to complete the message to his class before relieving himself.” He said that he was trying to quickly post something for the students as he rushed to the bathroom.

What is interesting is that Fordham maintained that a professor who allegedly masturbated during a class was not a Title IX violation, the law governing sexual harassment and abuse. Instead the university treated this as a single incident falling outside of the statute. As such, it was not required to afford Robinson a live hearing with both parties.  However, Robinson was fired Jan. 26 by a letter from the university provost who told him “more likely than not you engaged in conduct in violation of the Fordham Sexual and Related Misconduct Policy.”

Given that finding, Robinson has, in my view, a legitimate objection to the lack of due process afforded to him by the university before he was fired. It is not clear how they resolved these two strikingly different accounts. If Robinson had an urgent medical need, the incident may have been negligence but hardly worthy of termination. Indeed, even Supreme Court justices have been known to capture calls of nature in virtual settings. Termination on such serious allegations warrants a full hearing to establish the truth of the matter.

Robinson was replaced by another full-time, tenured professor, who Morin claims failed her in retaliation for her complaint against Robinson.  Such allegations are very difficult to prove. Grading is generally viewed as a discretionary academic function,. She would need to show concrete retaliatory intent on behalf of the substitute teacher.

Here is the Morin complaint: Morin v. Fordham

 

26 thoughts on “Fordham University Sued By Both A Professor and Student In Bizarre Zoom Class Incident”

  1. I’m guessing that the Fordham Admin looked at the Zoom meeting recording, and came to the same factual conclusion as Morin.
    Therefore, it would be pointless to hold a hearing, which would just further humiliate Fordham U.

    I think the student Morin will be able to force the U to settle out-of-court (in order to avoid the recording getting out to the public).

  2. At this point, i’m inclined to believe that the majority of people working in universities suffer from agoraphobia, and that is basically what they teach their students. They are intimidated by, and simply don’t like, other people. Fear everything! It’s ALL out to get you, and so is everyone you meet. That stranger on the street may kill you. Fear them and the mythological system that created them (never mind that they were born to parents and into a family).

    Given that this particular generation is known for being ‘fragile’ (if not defined by it), that is some pretty crass exploitation in the name of being tenured. I wouldn’t pay these losers a dime. Stop supporting your alma maters, folks. They are no longer what you remember. Not in the slightest, and not even close. In all honesty – your kid would be better off and make more money as a plumber or an electrician. But dang it, that would require them to work, instead of working their diary entries as poetry that are cathartic for precisely no one but them. Seriously.

    Their intellectual wankery will amount to you having them live with you until they die. I guess that’s not unusual for aristocrats who produce progeny that don’t know how to use a stapler. You are superior, how, exactly???

    1. First, agoraphobia doesn’t mean being “intimidated by, and simply don’t like, other people.” If you’re trying to describe the latter, you can just say that instead of mischaracterizing it as “agoraphobia.”

      Second, it simply isn’t the case that “the majority of people working in universities suffer from agoraphobia, and that is basically what they teach their students. They are intimidated by, and simply don’t like, other people.” In many fields, people with Ph.D.s can choose other kinds of work if they don’t want to teach. Many who do choose to teach enjoy teaching. Your claim is probably true of some people who work at universities, just as it’s true of some people who work in other settings, but it’s definitely not the majority.

      “your kid would be better off and make more money as a plumber or an electrician”

      They might or might not, depending on what interests them and what they become skilled at. I notice that you don’t say “happier,” but that matters too.

  3. The ‘prof’ is simply trying to keep things ‘in hand’. As one demented fool once mumbled, “Come on, man! You know, the Thing”

  4. WHY WE ARE LEAVING FOX NEWS
    Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg

    “The tension between doing that work well and remaining loyal to Fox has tested us many times over the past few years. But with the release of Patriot Purge, we felt we could no longer “do right as we see it” and remain at Fox News. So we resigned.”

    https://thedispatch.com/p/why-we-are-leaving-fox-news

    There can be no question that Turley is aware of these resignations, and they certainly put pressure on his decision to remain at Fox when serious academics finally have had enough of Fox’s Trumpism. His friends, students and colleagues will demand to know what he thinks of their reasons for resigning. Will he appear again on Carlson’s show and continue to legitimize him?

    Turley must search his soul as his intellectual and academic peers condemn Carlson’s “Patriot Purge.” Turley is NO Trumpist, and his resignation from Fox IS inevitable. For how long though can he maintain his academic credibility while stuffing his pockets with Fox cash earned from such lies?

    Though thehill.com, an outlet for which Turley works, duly reported these resignations from Fox, he won’t dare mention it on this blog. After all, what would he say? What could he say?

    Instead, we will hear the usual sound of crickets….

    1. JS

      Your comment has nothing to do with a Lefty wanker and everything to do with your obsessions – Trump, Fox, and Turley’s livelihood.

      Focus on the subject at hand.

      It is not all about you.

      Plus give Turley’s livelihood a rest. We all know where you stand.

      Next time, be brief. Just write Turley/Fox and we will know what you wanted to say.

      Save us all some time.

      1. Monument,

        I’m not writing for the likes of you, Trumpists. I’m writing to people with a conscience.

        1. Spare us Jeffie….you are the kind of person that talks merely because you like the sound of your own voice.

          Do you talk into a bucket so you can hear someone echo what you are saying?

      1. FriscoDB — Hmmm…Emerald Robinson. Not sure I’d believe an article by a staff writer at Newsmax (who even Newsmax disavows) who claimed that the COVID-19 vaccines “contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked.” That’s a bridge too far.

      2. Frisco,

        This article claims that writers will sell their intellectual integrity for money which only proves my point about Turley. Fox News has him on a short leash.

      3. A good opinion piece today at Spectator regarding Goldberg and Hayes reminds us that, unlike Carlson, these men were failing to challenge the Left’s excesses. That was their raison d’etre and they instead became assets of the Left. They each will find a limited shelf life as witnesses at an MSNBC or CNN show trial and then mercilessly expelled to the same carcass heap that is home to Will, Kristof, and French.

        https://spectator.org/addition-by-subtraction-at-fox-news/

    2. “. . . when serious academics finally have had enough of Fox’s Trumpism.”

      Neither of them are “academics,” let alone “serious” ones.

      You may now continue your infantile attempts to smear Turley and Fox.

      1. Sam,

        You may not respect the fact that 2 intellectuals abandoned Fox because they believe Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” documentary baselessly suggests that the January 6 insurrection was a “false flag” plot by Biden to conduct an ideological purge and persecute conservatives. As Goldberg warned:

        “This is not happening. And we think it’s dangerous to pretend it is. If a person with such a platform shares such misinformation loud enough and long enough, there are Americans who will believe — and act upon — it…. This isn’t theoretical. This is what actually happened on January 6, 2021.”

        You can be cavalier about this development because you have no skin in this game, but, for Turley, it cannot be welcome news. Their public condemnation and more significantly their principled resignations is NOT a good look for Turley’s reputation. When his day of reckoning comes, he will be hard-pressed to explain why he remained silent in the face of the threat posed by the *advocacy journalism* of “Patriot Purge.” Why didn’t he voice his good speech to counter this bad speech? Why the hypocrisy?

        1. “You can be cavalier about this development . . .”

          Are you reading challenged or intentionally dishonest?

          I did not express an opinion about their departure. I merely pointed out the fact that you mischaracterized them as “academics.” And that you did so in (yet another) lame attempt to smear Turley.

          1. Granted I mischaracterized them as “academics” when I should have said they were “intellectuals.”

            If Turley suffers any discredit to his reputation, he brings it upon himself for his silence on such controversies. I simply expose his cowardice. No doubt, you find it unsettling. Tough.

    3. JS:

      “There can be no question that Turley is aware of these resignations, and they certainly put pressure on his decision to remain at Fox when serious academics finally have had enough of Fox’s Trumpism.”
      ********************************
      Like me, JT probably wonders who the Hell these people are. Contributors on Fox are like dirt on a pig. It would take a lot of absence for anyone to really notice.

      1. Mespo,

        You jest. Turley knows who they are. There will be people and family around him who will be concerned for his bona fides for his not reacting to Goldberg’s forceful condemnation of “Patriot Purge”:

        “The special—which ran on Fox’s subscription streaming service earlier this month and was promoted on Fox News—is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions. And its message is clear: The U.S. government is targeting patriotic Americans in the same manner —and with the same tools—that it used to target al Qaeda.”

        Turley has *consistently* denounced *advocacy journalism* in the mainstream media. How can he in good conscience ignore this journalistic propaganda at his employer?

    4. Are you ——- kidding me?!!!
      _______________________

      NEWSFLASH

      Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels leave Fox News!

      Film at 11:00!
      __________

      What a ——- joke!

  5. How many false allegations have been fereted out on college campi?
    Strange? Yes?
    This would not be a story if due process had been the standard applied.

    Another data point. Leftist abuse the rights of individuals when they have the power and make/enforce the rules. My conclusion? Facts will get in the way of a prefered narrative. Old White Male? Guilty of being an Old White Male. What other evidence is needed?

  6. What is it about Lefties pulling their pudds on camera (I say Lefty, because 97% probability that the professor is a Lefty)?

    And his argument that he couldn’t is specious; even a noodle that is less than al dente can bring joy.

    Still, as someone else mentioned, the administrators probably grabbed the opportunity to get rid of him.

  7. What did the video show……was there visual evidence of an erect Penis and manual manipulation of it by the Professor?

    If yes…he has no case.

    He claims he needed to take a whizz….and did so upon turning his back to the camera……was he lecturing from inside a bathroom or did he just pee on the carpet?

    This is not about some Professor’s freedom to speak out on some matter…..did he or did he not get caught on video of the act he is accused of…..that is all that matters.

    We are used to verbal masturbation by Professors when it comes to Leftist Ideology….but physical masturbation on camera with Co-Eds watching is not acceptable.

    What happened to the “All Women should be believed…..” notion?

    Especially if there is video to confirm or deny the allegation.

  8. Who knew that Toobin would start a trend?

    Methinks that the incident was just an excuse for Fordham to remove this person.

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