Lawyers representing Tina Mears, a 25 year old student, announced that a settlement has been reached with Cumberland County College in New Jersey for $90,000 in a case where Mears claimed that the college was responsible for the actions of a professor — John Reinard — who forced a kiss on her after a political rally in 1995.
According to the lawsuit, Mears claimed to be the victim of sexual harassment. In the lawsuit, Mears brought a claim against the college under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law which prohibits discrimination of the basis of gender, including sexual harassment, in educational programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The law permits students to file against educational institutions which receive federal funds.
Mears’ civil lawsuit against Cumberland County College and Reinard followed a criminal complaint that Mears had also filed immediately following the kissing incident. The Woodbury Municipal Court found Reinard guilty of harassment. Reinard is appealing his conviction.
In describing the settlement, Mears’ lawyer stated that “the College avoided a potentially costly and embarrassing trial, during which we would have revisited all the allegations concerning Reinard. That would have reflected badly on the College and would have also compounded the emotional stress that Tina Mears has already suffered.”
He noted that an added benefit of a case like this was that it would hopefully serve to deter future incidents of sexual harassment in schools and colleges.