Editor's note: Following publication, the University of Texas placed Phil Nemy on official leave beginning on December 7.
A University of Texas faculty member is still employed by the school more than five years after being investigated for sexual misconduct. First reported on December 5 by the university's student-run newspaper, The Daily Texan, Phil Nemy has remained on the school's payroll even after a 2013 investigation found the lecturer did engage in sexual misconduct in violation of university policy.
Nemy is currently the executive director of the Wofford Denius UTLA Center for Entertainment & Media Studies, which falls under the Moody College of Communication.
According to documents provided to CultureMap by UT, the university's Office of Institutional Equity interviewed four female students or former students and one male UTLA employee in 2013 after Nemy was accused of inappropriately touching and making sexual comments to his female students and making racist jokes. In the documents, most names and identifying details have been redacted.
In addition to the claims by students and employees, the university also investigated whether Nemy allowed alcohol at UTLA-sanctioned events and drank with his students. Both are violations of UT policies.
Nemy denied all charges in 2013. As of press time, he has not responded to a request for comment.
In 2013, the Moody College of Communication received a complaint from a UT Austin employee about Nemy, prompting an investigation into his behavior.
Among the complaints against Nemy outlined in the report are details about an off-campus beach party in which the teacher approached a female student changing into a shirt and said, "No one would mind if you stayed in a bikini. Ha! Ha! Ha!"
At the same party, Nemy allegedly approached another student and said, "Are you looking at your boobs because everyone else is doing that for you."
Another incident outlined in the report involved a field trip to the set of CSI: NY. During that trip, Nemy reportedly put "his hand under the bottom back of [a female student's] shirt on the small of her back and leading her around the set."
"The student took his hand and removed it from her back only to have him put it back there two more times and lead her around the set with his hand on her lower back/under her shirt." Later, says the report, the same student received an email from Nemy "saying she was dressed inappropriately."
Nemy also allegedly rubbed female students' shoulders and licked one student's hand, among other charges.
Says the report: "According to [one] student, the general feeling among male and female students in the class was that Mr. Nemy was creepy and crossed boundaries with the girls. The student reports that 'everyone' would say he was creepy, flirted a lot, and made girls uncomfortable."
The UTLA employee interviewed in response to Nemy's behavior described him as "fatherly." Says the OIE report: "According to Mr. [Redacted], Mr. Nemy has a habit of making jokes that are not funny, but that is his personality. Mr. [Redacted] states he didn't sense that Mr. Nemy meant it other than as a joke, but acknowledges that the comment was 'perhaps' in poor taste."
After reviewing the evidence, the OIE found that evidence did support a "finding that Mr. Nemy did engage in sexual misconduct in violation of university policy. However, the investigation did not reveal discrimination in violation of university policy or state and federal laws."
Despite the findings, Nemy remains the executive director of the UTLA program, and he currently is a lecturer and oversees the Denius Center Internship program, according to the Moody College website.
In a statement to CultureMap, Jay Bernhardt, dean of the Moody College of Communications, says: “Protecting our students is our highest priority and we will not tolerate people or situations that may put them at risk. Although this incident occurred five years ago, I only learned about the details as the Daily Texan was reporting this article. We are now working with the university on appropriate follow-up actions and will share updates as they become available.”
As to why he wasn't further disciplined at the time, UT spokesperson J.B. Bird told the Texan: “He was reprimanded and received counseling consistent with the University’s approach at the time. Had this situation occurred today, the University might have responded differently, given changing norms and the University’s evolution in responding to such incidents. This is an area where we continue to seek improvement. We encourage students to report inappropriate behavior, and we take such reports seriously.”
In response to a request from CultureMap to clarify this point, Bird says: "Disciplinary actions were taken in 2013 according to the policies and practices in effect at the time. Additional discipline is not enforced retroactively."