By JB Clark
OXFORD – Nine former students and faculty members have joined civil lawsuits against Rust College, claiming an employee sexually assaulted or raped them during their time at the school and that the administration ignored it.
An original suit alleges Rust College President David Beckley ignored numerous complaints of professor Sylvester Oliver’s misconduct, and a second suit accuses Beckley of ignoring complaints of sexual misconduct by Johnny McDonald, former director of enrollment services for the college.
Plaintiffs Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 allege Oliver, a 64-year-old former Rust professor, raped them in his office between 1993 and 2002 and that their reports of the incidents were ignored.
Another woman, listed as Julie Doe, reported Oliver raped her in his office in 2003, was caught in the act by a faculty member and he was subsequently asked to resign.
He then went to work for Memphis City Schools, where he was fired in 2006 for being accused of raping a student.
Shortly after Oliver was rehired at Rust College in 2008, a faculty member listed as Jane Doe 5 alleged he made inappropriate sexual comments and advances toward her, creating a hostile work environment. Her complaints also were reportedly ignored, she said.
Jane Doe 4 alleged Oliver raped her in his office in 2009 while she sought academic help.
Jane Doe 6 alleged being groped by Oliver in the computer lab and then later assaulted in his office but was able to escape before being raped.
Jane Doe 7 alleged she reported numerous sexual advances to school officials in 2011.
The original plaintiff in the case, Jane Doe 1, which was filed in August 2013, alleged Oliver raped her in his office. She reported the rape to school officials. Unlike previous women, she also called the New Albany Police Department.
Oliver was indicted by a Marshall County grand jury in October 2012 for the 2012 rape.
After his arrest, the lawsuit states, Oliver voluntarily resigned his faculty post at Rust. He reportedly was selected “Teacher of the Year” during his time at the school.
The civil trial is scheduled for 2015 after Oliver’s criminal proceedings in Marshall County Circuit Court, where his trial is set for the April 2014 term.
In the second suit against the college, Jane Doe 8 and Jane Doe 9 allege Johnny McDonald made numerous sexual advances toward them, and attempted to rape Jane Doe 9 in 2007.
Their suit alleges McDonald was asked to resign but then later was rehired by the college. He is currently not employed by Rust College.
Both suits allege Beckley ignored numerous complaints of sexual misconduct and hired professors with documented histories of sexual assault.
Beckley was not available by phone or email Friday.