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Posted: 7:25 p.m. Monday, May 5, 2014

Report: Miguel Diaz, UD prof, accused of harassment

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Miguel H. Diaz photo
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Miguel H. Diaz, United States Ambassador to the Holy See since 2009, has been named University Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton.

By Breaking News Staff and Lynn Hulsey

Miguel Diaz, a University of Dayton theology professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, was accused last year of sexually harassing a married couple who also are UD professors, according to an online higher education publication.

InsideHigherEd.com reported Monday that Diaz was "found to have likely engaged in 'unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature' toward a married couple" at UD. The allegation was outlined in confidential letters to the alleged victims from UD Provost Joseph Saliba and UD's general counsel, according to the letters obtained by the website and posted online.

Gabe Fuentes, a Chicago attorney for Diaz, said he had no comment.

According to Diaz's UD profile, he was ambassador to the Vatican from 2009-2012 and is a professor of faith and culture at UD. He and his wife, Marian Diaz, have accepted faculty appointments at Loyola University, a Chicago Catholic university, according to the Loyola website.

Loyola spokesman Steven Christensen declined comment on the allegations. "The University doesn't comment on personnel decisions, but we can confirm Miguel Diaz has accepted an offer from us for a faculty appointment," Christensen said. "He has signed a contract, which is set to begin on July 1, 2014."

Two letters posted to the InsideHigherEd website Monday afternoon outline the university's response to the allegations. The names of the couple who filed the complaint have been redacted.

According to a July 22, 2013, letter from Provost Joseph Saliba to the professors, "Diaz was sexually harassing you through various requests and references to explicitly sexual feelings." In the letter, Saliba thanks the professors for bringing the matter to the school's attention so it could be fully investigated and addressed, and he reminds them of the importance of confidentiality.

The university, he said in the posted letter, is mindful of obligations under the law, "but above and beyond what the law requires, we are very concerned about any behavior that appears to be inconsistent with our Marianist values."

The letters were posted by InsideHigherEd.com the week after more than 100 tenured faculty at UD cast ballots of "no confidence" in Saliba during a symbolic vote called by a group of faculty members. The group was complaining about administrative and governance issues, said Rebecca Wells, associate professor of marketing. Of 313 tenured faculty who were eligible to vote, 160 cast ballots.

Teri Rizvi, executive director of strategic communications at UD, would not directly address the letters involving Diaz and said she would not release documents from any Title IX case.

"The University is prohibited by federal law from discussing the details of Title IX cases. The University complies fully with Title IX, investigates promptly and thoroughly all complaints and takes appropriate remedial action," Rizvi said. "We do not tolerate sexual discrimination or harassment of any form."

An investigation conducted by outside counsel found reasonable cause to believe that "based upon the preponderance of evidence" federal law and university policy were violated, Saliba's letter said. "Dr. Diaz created a hostile environment by engaging in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, particularly after being told to stop," the letter says.

A second letter, also posted to InsideHigherEd.com is from Mary Ann Poirier, general counsel for UD. The letter says outside counsel interviewed the professors, Diaz and Diaz's wife, reviewed documents from both sides and provided information to an independent medical expert with "considerable experience in dealing with issues of sexual abuse and harassment to obtain advice regarding possible remedial actions."

To remedy the situation, Saliba's letter said, Diaz is to avoid contact with the two professors unless they voluntarily and in writing request to re-establish the friendship. He was also prohibited from direct or indirect input - either positive or negative - in the professors' employment, performance, service or any other involvement at UD or elsewhere.

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