Second lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington accused of inappropriate relationship with student

Imogen Wells
Source: 1News

A second lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

1 NEWS understands this relationship occurred between 2014 and 2017.

In an initial statement the university said it had not received a formal complaint in relation to the second allegation and that it does not have a centralised record of informal complaints about staff conduct.

The university has since confirmed it is unaware of an informal complaint either.

It comes after separate claims of an intimate relationship between a lecturer and a student were revealed.

Neither of these relationships with students had been disclosed by the lecturers to the university at the time they occurred.

Employment lawyer Steph Dyhrberg said a major concern with student-teacher relationships is the power imbalance.

"The [student] is so at the mercy of the academic professional … you have to consider whether even fully consensual, freely given, happy consent to a domestic relationship or sexual relationship is even appropriate given that power imbalance."

The university has initiated an external investigation into the first complainant's allegations.

The lecturer is accused of entering into an intimate relationship with one of his students and failing to inform the university about it.

1 NEWS understands he claims he did not know the woman was a student of his and that they entered into an intimate relationship once exams were over.

The woman told 1 NEWS even though the semester was over that he was the person marking the exams and he "still controlled my performance and my grades of that course".

She also alleges he assaulted her, however she was charged with common assault because she pushed the man during an altercation and he called the police.

She pled guilty and was discharged without conviction.

The lecturer has continued working in his role throughout the investigation.

"Wherever there are really serious allegations, you do have to consider as the employer of that person, is the complainant safe? Are the other people in the workplace safe? Is the respondent safe and not so stressed out that they shouldn’t be at work?" Dyhrberg said.

A spokesperson for the university told 1 NEWS it considers whether interim measures are needed when complaints like this are received.

"Depending on the circumstances, this may include consideration of matters including whether a staff member or a student may be temporarily stood down or relocated; whether reporting lines or study arrangements should be changed temporarily; or protocols developed to restrict or minimise interactions between parties."

The external investigation is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.

This article was updated on 2 June 2021 with the University’s confirmation it is unaware of an informal complaint either in relation to the second allegation.