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Lawsuit claims former UIUC professor assaulted, bullied and raped multiple students

Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019

* ProPublica Illinois

Two former students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a professor at another college filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a former UIUC professor, claiming he assaulted, bullied and raped multiple students.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Urbana against Gary Gang Xu, seeks damages for distress from emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

The lawsuit claims Xu specifically targeted female Chinese students, who often depended on the university for their visa status. […]

Xu, who was a tenured professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, resigned last year, two years after a university investigation found that he violated a no-contact directive involving a student and had an inappropriate relationship with that student.

He received a $10,000 “separation payment” with a confidentiality clause.

* From the lawsuit

Sun entered into a sexual relationship with Xu, her professor, when she was 19 and he was 45. She was new to the country, isolated, and so young. She was the perfect target for him. Xu was a typical domestic abuser. He raised Sun up, only to throw her back down. He told her he loved her and then threatened to leave her. He violently raped her, then told her it was because he couldn’t help himself in the face of her beauty. He tried to pimp her out to Chinese artists for commercial gain. He forced her to arrange a threesome for him with another student while she was pregnant with his child. Hanging over the entire relationship was the huge power imbalance between them. She was his student. He could fail her, drop her from his course. She could lose her F1 student visa status and be forced to leave the country if she displeased him. He could beat her if she refused—he had before. Sun was so strung along by Xu that she would do whatever he asked, even having an abortion performed against her will. The despair she felt over the loss of her baby caused her to attempt suicide.

On several occasions, Sun attempted to stop the cycle of violence and reported Xu’s abuse to UIUC. As is typical of a victim of domestic violence, she dropped these reports shortly after making them to protect her safety — Xu beat her and threatened to hurt her and her family if she did not. UIUC took no meaningful action in response to these reports, allowing Xu continued unsupervised access to all the young students under his tutelage, including Sun. After the University gave him a letter telling him to have no contact with Sun, she was still allowed to enroll in and take his classes, with no measures in place to prevent this. He flaunted their relationship publicly, but the University did nothing. Even as he began to sexually violate yet another UIUC student, Xu’s relationship with Sun continued.

Finally, in the fall of 2015, an incident occurred that UIUC could no longer ignore. Xu’s volatile temper flared again, with Sun as his target. As Xu began to advance on Sun, she fled her apartment to escape him. She ran down public streets while Xu chased her in his car, attempting to hit her, until she arrived at the Champaign Public Library. There was a public scene, with many witnesses, and the police were called. Sun told the police about their abusive relationship—his physical assaults, his rapes. Her school advisor was present. This time, UIUC had to take notice. Sun, through a private attorney, filed a restraining order against Xu. Their two- year abusive relationship was, at last, over.

He didn’t resign for two more years.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments »
  1. - efudd - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:31 am:

    I know capital punishment doesn’t deter violent crimes.
    But sometimes….


  2. - Out Here In The Middle - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:35 am:

    I find that I cannot comment on this without language & suggestions that would require me to be banned . . . . .


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:37 am:

    Maybe someone should look into the Faculty handbook and ask why professors dating students has not been banned by now.


  4. - Out Here In The Middle - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    from the ProPublica story:
    “Unlike many other universities, UIUC allows faculty-student relationships, though it stipulates that an individual can’t participate in educational or institutional decisions for a person with whom he or she has had a sexual relationship.

    A university task force is reexamining the policy after public scrutiny last fall over the university’s handling of misconduct claims against professors.”

    Might I suggest that UIUC needs to ‘reexamine’ more than the policy?


  5. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    They need a task force to figure out that professors dating students is a horrible idea? That’s so higher ed.


  6. - My New Handle - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:45 am:

    Don’t have to be Fellini to figure out why higher ed is called the Ivory Tower.


  7. - JT - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    UIUC has always had an attitude problem and incidents like this are allowed to fester while they act superior to everyone else.

    At the same time, I can tell you that this is not the only case of an international student being treated like a sex slave by a faculty member and it is not isolated to UIUC.


  8. - R A T - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:24 am:

    Can we have some follow-up to know where Xu is now? And, paying him $10,000 to go away is better than others that you have read but still infuriating.


  9. - OneMan - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    Glad they gave the guy a severence payment, what the heck do you have to do so you don’t get one?


  10. - Ebenezer - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    ===Maybe someone should look into the Faculty handbook and ask why professors dating students has not been banned by now===

    That wasn’t dating. That was straight up abuse.

    The police report was October 2015, I’d like to hear why he was still on the payroll in 2018?


  11. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:34 am:

    ===what the heck do you have to do so you don’t get one?===

    If this guy was a staffer or even a non-tenured professor, he’d be out on his behind with nothing. But since he was a tenured member of the faculty, the severance is almost certainly part of a settlement to avoid a long legal fight.

    Think of tenure like you’d think of union rules that protect bad employees. Kind of the same thing.


  12. - Pick a Name - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:05 pm:

    Maybe a long legal fight would be the best course to take.


  13. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:27 pm:

    ===Maybe a long legal fight would be the best course to take===

    Maybe. But it’d probably cost more than $10,000.


  14. - Not a Billionaire - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    UIUC is non union. The legislature could ban such relationships for all the campuses.


  15. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    ===The legislature could ban such relationships for all the campuses.===

    You don’t know much about faculty tenure, do you?


  16. - Streamwood Retiree - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 1:04 pm:

    Why wasn’t he arrested and charged with felonious assault?
    The usual two laws, one for the wealthy and connected and the other for us lower class animals?


  17. - A guy - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Ovine


  18. - Pick a Name - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 3:46 pm:

    Even if it costs more than $10,000 it sends a strong message. Look how much the taxpayers are on the hook for the Jack Thomas/WIU fiasco.


  19. - Seasoned Lobster - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 4:04 pm:

    Is he still in line for a fat university pension?


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