Judson College removed from alleged harassment suit

Judson College removed from alleged harassment suit

A lawsuit filed against Judson College alleging sexual harassment of a former student by a former employee of the college has been dismissed by a federal judge.

The suit filed in U.S District Court by Alexis Burt, a 19-year-old Judson student at the time, claimed former Judson employee J. William “Billy” McFarland Jr. sexually harassed her over two days in May via Facebook Messenger.

McFarland previously was special assistant to the president for business development at Judson but ended his employment on April 30, 2018, according to Susan Jones, senior vice president and dean of students at Judson. 

Burt said in her complaint that McFarland sent her a friend request following a luncheon in Marion on May 21 and immediately began making sexually explicit suggestions. Burt dropped out of Judson soon after being contacted by McFarland. 

According to the judge, the dismissal of Burt’s claims against Judson automatically vacated the claims against McFarland, but Burt retains the right to refile her claims against McFarland in state court, which Burt’s attorney said she plans to do.

Jones said, “Judson has multiple policies in place to protect students and ensure that relationships between faculty, staff and students are appropriate, nurturing and God-glorifying.” 

Mission focused

“All of us here at Judson are glad to put the lawsuit behind us to focus exclusively on our mission of educating and supporting young women as they seek to discern and follow God’s call in their lives,” Jones said.

 Burt plans to continue her studies at Judson this fall, Jones added. 

“We look forward to welcoming her back to our campus community, and we are humbled by this opportunity to model Christian reconciliation to the world.” (TAB)