LOS ANGELES – A former English professor was awarded a $10 million verdict against the Los Angeles Community College District when the jury unanimously found she was wrongfully terminated after reporting sexual harassment claims that her employer failed to investigate.
Dr. Sabrena Odom was a tenured professor at Los Angeles Southwest College with over 20 years experience. She was the Director of Student Services and also served as the secretary for the Academic Senate.
Odom’s complaints arose from unwanted sexual advances made by Howard Irvin, who is employed as the VIce-President of Student Services who had been previously disciplined for sexual assault towards female police officers when he worked in the Los Angeles Police Department.
The Los Angeles Times wrote about Irvin’s history in 1997.
Records also show that both female officers obtained restraining orders against Sgt. Howard Irvin, who surrendered last week on an arrest warrant prompted by an Aug. 6 meeting with Police Chief Bernard C. Parks at Parker Center. That meeting appeared to violate the most recent court order, which forbids the sergeant to visit the downtown police headquarters because an estranged girlfriend works there as a detective.Officer Was Subject of 3 Domestic Abuse Probes
Despite Irvin’s documented history, he was hired by and continues to be employed by the college.
According to her complaint, after Irvin made unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances towards her he threatened her. When Odom complained to the Chancellor nothing was done.
Irvin then began to retaliate by cutting off her program at the college and tried to take away her authority. Despite her repeated complaints, the college refused to take any action.
In Irvin’s current position he is regularly alone with female students, staff, and faculty where they are not protected from an employee with his documented history of stalking females.
It is believed the college failed to perform a background check on Irvin which would have revealed his history of multiple restraining orders being filed against him.
Odom believes more women have been subjected to unwanted advances as well.
The jury reached a unanimous verdict Oct. 21 awarding Odom $10 million in damages.
Odom was represented by Maryann Gallagher.complaint1-53