The lawyer for Professor Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Butakor who have been suspended for six months and four months respectively for their roles in a sexual harassment scandal which hit the University of Ghana in October 2019 says the punishment is too harsh.
In a press statement, the lawyers of the lecturers, F-X Law & Associates said, “we find the decision to be a little too harsh and the university’s communiqué as misleading”
“However, our clients accept the said decision and would respect it. Our clients have made it clear to us that as senior members of the university, they do not want to further litigate this matter in court or have a protracted dispute over the issue.”
They said the BBC did “showed gross disrespect” to Prof. Butakor and Prof. Gyampo by not availing themselves to be cross-examined during the University’s administrative proceedings on the matter, insisting that the disciplinary measures taken against the two lecturers do not indicate their guilt in the matter.
“The statement by the university creates a lot of doubts in the minds of people and to make it succinctly clear, Prof. Gyampo and Dr Butakor were not found guilty of sexual misconduct or sex for grades as was initially alleged by the BBC,” the lawyers said.
Reiterating the argument of the lawyers in a radio interview with Accra based Citi FM Tuesday morning [February 18, 2020], the lawyer, Francis Xavier Sosu said the university’s statement announcing the suspension was “misleading.”
“In the first place they were not found guilty of sexual misconduct and given the fact that it was a breach of code of conduct, we think that six months and four months without salary is very harsh.”
“Secondly, also because they have been on interdiction since October 2019, so we would have thought that the sentence would have run from October, however, their sentences or suspensions are running from January. I mean the only reason why they have accepted to serve the suspension is because, they also want a closure to this matter, so they can concentrate on their core mandate in academia,” he added.
The Committee that looked into the case according to the statement recommended that the case be referred to the Disciplinary Committee for Senior Members which proferred the sanctions against the pair.
“Management has accepted the recommendations of the Senior Members’ Disciplinary Committee and has informed Prof. Gyampo and Dr Butakor accordingly”, the release stressed.
The statement further assured stakeholders that any acts of misconduct, sexual harassment or any other form of harassment will not be tolerated among students and employees of the university.
Prof Gyampo and Dr Butakor were accused of soliciting sex in order to extend some advantages to female students in a documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
In the documentary produced by the BBC Africa Eye and published on Monday, October 7, 2019, the BBC reported that it has uncovered sexual harassment at the University of Lagos and the University of Ghana.
The BBC sent female undercover reporters to the campuses of the two universities where it reported that they were sexually harassed, propositioned and put under pressure by senior lecturers – all the while wearing secret cameras.
Following that, the two lecturers were interdicted by the university.
Read the full statement below:
RE: DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN RESPECT OF PROF RANSFORD GYAMPO AND DR PAUL BUTAKOR.
We write for and on behalf of Prof Gyampo and Dr. Butakor to accept the decision of the University to suspend them for six and four months respectively.
Given the background of this case and the fact that our Clients have consistently denied the origin of the action and have raised fundamental issues of natural justice among many others, we are of the firm view that the decision is quite harsh.
The statement by the University creates a lot of doubts in the minds of people and to make it succinctly clear, Prof. Gyampo and Dr. Butakor were not found guilty of Sexual Misconduct or Sex for grades as was initially alleged by the BBC.
It is disappointing that the BBC showed gross disrespect to our Clients and the University by refusing to make themselves available to be cross-examined in the whole process thereby undermining the integrity of the entire administrative proceedings. It is also unfortunate, that the University’s release did not make it clear that the allegations of BBC were false and had no basis.
Additionally, given the fact that our Clients were not found guilty of any sexual misconduct contrary to the anti-sexual harassment and misconduct policy of the University, we find it strange that they are required to be subjected not only to training but also to an annual assessment for 5 years in this regard. It is for this reason that we find the decision to be a little too harsh and the university’s communiqué as misleading.
However, our Clients accept the said decision and would respect it. Our Clients have made it clear to us that as senior members of the University, they do not want to further litigate this matter in court or have a protracted dispute over the issue.
Our Clients remain assets to the University and desire to put this matter behind them in the collective interest of the entire University Community. Indeed, they have learnt useful lessons that will guide their future conducts in the university.
We hold the instructions of our Clients that they desire to bring finality to this matter in order for the University and our clients re-focus fully on their core mandate in academia.