Recent USC grad files lawsuit against university, professor following study abroad trip
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH)-- A recent University of South Carolina graduate has filed a lawsuit against the university, President Harris Pastides, a professor and the International Center for the Arts.
Allison Dunavant is a recent graduate of the university's School of Visual Arts ad Design's graduate program. She has filed a lawsuit alleging that she and other students were treated poorly while they studied abroad in the university's "USC to Italy" program.
While on a trip to Italy Dunavant says that her professor David Voros required her to perform manual labor, restricted her access to food when she did not perform work to his expectations and was subjected to unwelcomed sexual advances.
The lawsuit states that Dunavant and her professor conversed via email about the trip to Italy, which was supposed to last three weeks allowing students studio time, preparing art supplies and other activities similar to her role as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.
Dunavant states that while in Italy she lived in a "prison environment" with locked bars on windows, frigid temperatures, no bed linen or towels in a building filled with cat urine, scorpions and spiders.
Instead of having studio time, Dunavant says she and two other students were required to work twelve hour days pulling nails and tacks out of walls, removing paint from bricks with a sponge, painting walls and moving heavy furniture up and down flights of stairs.
Due to her living conditions, Dunavant stated that she began having headaches and congestion and felt overwhelmed the entire trip.
She also states that at one point during the trip she walked in on Voros having sex with another student. The lawsuit also alleges that Voros implied Dunavant could go on shopping trips if she would engage in sexual acts with him.
After numerous complaints Dunavant stated that Voros told her that the trip to Italy was not in conjunction with the university but was instead a trip based on Voros' generosity.
At one point during the trip, Dunavant says she was eating breakfast when Voros told her that she was an employee for him and that she owed him five hours of work for five days a week.
After being locked in her room for not working and being denied meals Dunavant became fearful for her safety and reached out to the university and her parents so that she could get assistance to return to South Carolina.
After two weeks in Italy, the university flew Dunavant back home before the program had ended.
The lawsuit further claims that since returning from Italy in 2016, the university has failed to handle the situation properly and Dunavant has been the victim of retaliation from the university's administration and faculty members,
Dunavant is being represented by Samantha Albrecht of Cromer Babb Porter & Hicks.
Albrecht released the following statement in regards to the case:
What happened to Allison in Italy was horrible, and even worse was the treatment she received when she spoke up about what she experienced. The facts of this case are extraordinary, and we believe these facts will ultimately spell out the lengths to which the University will go to silence students who speak up when they believe they are being treated unfairly. Allison was a dedicated student who did not deserve to go through any of what she went through, and we intend to work hard to see that justice is done.
The university has not issued a comment on the allegations.
Full lawsuit below:
*For a first cause of action against defendants Voros and ICA -False Imprisonment-See Page 21
* For a second cause of action against defendants Voros and ICA-assault-see page 22
*For a third cause of action against defendants Voros and ICA- battery-see page 23
*For a fourth cause of action against defendant Voros-criminal conspiracy-see page 23
* For a fifth cause of action against defendants Voros and ICA-defamation-see page 24
*For a sixth cause of action against defendants Voros and USC-fraud-see page 25
*For a seventh cause of action against defendants Voros and USC-negligent misrepresentation-see page 27
* For a eighth cause of action against defendants USC-negligent supervision-see page 28
*For a ninth cause of action against defendant USC-gross negligence in handing of investigation-see page 29
*For a tenth cause of action against defendant USC-Violation of Title IX-The School's Deliberate Indifference to Alleged Sexual Harassment-see page 29
*For a eleventh cause of action against defendant USC-Violation of Title IX-retaliation-see page 31
*For a twelfth cause of action against defendant USC-promissory estoppel-see page 32
*For a thirteenth cause of action against defendant Pastides-Violation of 42 U.S.C. 1983-see page 32
*For a fourteenth cause of action against defendant Pastides-Violation of 42 U.S.C. 1985-see page 34