Thank you for coming today.
I want to thank you for joining me for what will be my first public statement relative to the more than 10-month Title IX investigation of which I was the subject. I will speak to that in greater detail shortly, but first, I want to express my appreciation for the members of the Wilder School.
I am immensely proud of the school. The hard work, dedication, and commitment of many of you has moved this urban university higher in its pursuit of providing racial and economic diversity.
In addition, we are currently ranked 39 in the top 40 schools in our nation, NUMBER ONE in our state.
Dean Gooden, staff, faculty, and the entire support staff of the school deserve accolades for this continuing pursuit of excellence.
I was fortunate to speak to this summer’s Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) students which brought some of the best and brightest students from across the country to our campus. The Wilder School was one of five schools selected to host 21 exceptional students.
There was a hunger for truth and knowledge about our past. They wanted to know more about “Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny” the first chapter in my book, “Son of Virginia”. I encouraged them to be a part of the decision-making in our nation, states, or locality.
That hunger was echoed this fall when we hosted the annual Wilder School Symposium focusing on “Race in Academia”. Joining us were four college presidents from VCU, Virginia State University, the University of Richmond, and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
Shortly thereafter, I received a communication from one of our Ph.D. graduates, introduced to me in 2017 by Dr. Robyn McDougle, who recently retired from the US Army as a Lt. Colonel. In part, he stated, “Although our meeting was brief, it was one of the highlights of my entire life. I watched the video of a panel discussion last week that included you, Dr. Rao, the President of VSU, the President of U of R, and the President of J. Sargeant Reynolds and I was just amazed at how you responded and interacted with the panelists, especially when you asked the President of J. Sargeant Reynolds “WHO” she was referring to when she said, “SOME PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO DISCUSS RACE.”
It was ALSO brought up at the Symposium the continued reference to some Americans by the many colors of the rainbow, BLACK, WHITE, etc..
In speaking to a group in Hampton during the 1619 (400 Anniversary Observance) of the first Africans arriving to these shores. I stressed the importance of American History being taught, the TRUE history of slavery. We, as Americans, know so little about it.
America needs to come to know that those who came here is 1619, and thereafter, are AMERICANS.
NOW, I’ll speak to the issue of what brought you here today: the more than 10-month Title IX investigation.
As you know, I was cleared of three of the four allegations filed against me: Sexual Exploitation, Sex/Gender-based Discrimination, and Retaliation by the initial investigation on July 9th. I was found “responsible” for Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. I appealed that determination of responsibility, detailing in my Contesting Statement (posted on my website Wilder Visions) the reasons for doing so.
A few of the reasons I will state here today:
- The Complainant testified that I wrote and gave her a note apologizing, telling her to not share the note and not to tell anyone about the note. She was never able to produce the note, could not explain what happened to such a note, nor did the Investigator find it necessary to clarify the inconsistencies and discrepancies relative to the note. In fact, work records established that the Complainant did not work on the day she claimed to have received the note.
- The Complainant stated that I harassed her by phone every single day; however, she did not produce her phone records to prove such allegations. I provided my UNREDACTED Phone records from February – June that clearly showed NO harassment.
- There was not one corroborating witness, although Complainant testified her cousin was a witness. The cousin refused to be interviewed by the investigator.
- It was alleged that the Complainant lost her job because I told her there was no funding for her position during an employee luncheon that “WE” attended. I was NEVER involved in any way with Complainant’s job, she did not work with me, nor did she report to me, further, I emphatically denied ever telling Complainant there was no funding for such job. The investigator interviewed many witnesses relative to the luncheon, one in particular, who attended the luncheon on the day the Complainant testified that “we”, meaning she and I, were sitting off to the side when the group arrived. However, that witness and every other witness that attended the luncheon testified that they did not see me OR the Complainant. The Investigator then asked the witness, “if it was possible that the Complainant and I COULD have been at the restaurant BEFORE she got there?” Now think about that?? (Robbing a bank analogy.) Additionally, it was established by work records that the Complainant did NOT work on the day she testified that I told her there was no funding for her position at the luncheon.
You can read my 15-page Contesting Statement for more information.
My appeal was heard by an internal University-appointed Review Panel last week. The hearing lasted six hours. The Review Panel rejected the findings of the Investigator and determined I was “Not Responsible” for Non-Consensual Sexual Contact. I am pleased that the Panel Members confirmed what I have stated from the very beginning of this investigation.
My life as a Son of Virginia has been one of adversity, triumph, and success. I have been fortunate enough, in my life, as a Son of Virginia, to know what can be done, what can be accomplished, what can be improved upon, when WE, the people, work together to make it better for ALL of the people.