Victoria University lecturer investigated over alleged assault, inappropriate relationship with student

A Victoria University of Wellington lecturer is under investigation over allegations of a relationship with his student, which turned violent.

The university has confirmed it is investigating a formal complaint over the alleged relationship – and the student’s accusations that the lecturer assaulted her, leaving her with multiple bruises.

In internal university documents obtained by the Herald on Sunday, it is alleged that the lecturer pursued an intimate personal relationship with the student.

“She was a student enrolled in the course of which [the staff member] was a lecturer and prior to the conclusion of the course … [He] entered into an intimate personal and domestic relationship … when she was still a student of the university and failed to disclose that relationship to the Head of School,” the document says.

The pair’s identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons.

The student told the Herald on Sunday her relationship with her then-lecturer began last year.

Earlier this year, the student had accompanied the lecturer on a university-funded trip.

The student paid for her own plane ticket but stayed with the lecturer at his accommodation.

During that trip, on or around January 13, she alleges that the lecturer physically assaulted her – leaving her with bruising to multiple parts of her body.

She says she did not report the incident to police but complained instead to the university because she felt more comfortable with that approach.

After the alleged incident she was transferred out of his class in March.

In a separate altercation, the woman was charged by police with common assault and behaving threateningly after an incident in his home.

She pleaded guilty and was discharged without conviction.

“It was an easy case for the judge because [the lecturer] did not have any injuries,” she said.

The woman said in her view there was a power imbalance since the start of the relationship. She believed him taking her to court was a way of showing he had power over her.

When asked if she regretted what she had done, the student said: “I just regret being in a relationship with [the lecturer].”

In an email to the Herald on Sunday, lawyers acting for the lecturer said “any allegations of wrongdoing have been denied”.

A Victoria University spokeswoman confirmed it was following “established processes and procedures” in its response to the student’s complaint.

“A formal complaint is being carried out into those aspects of the complaint which are within the university’s jurisdiction to inquire into and determine,” she said.

“The investigation is being conducted by an investigator external to the university, in accordance with terms of reference which were consulted on with parties to the complaint prior to being finalised.”

The investigation was ongoing, she said, and the identities of all involved were being kept confidential for privacy reasons.

The student was “receiving ongoing pastoral care and support from the university”.

The lawyer for the staff member, Calum Cartwright, said as the investigations were ongoing, the lecturer “does not wish to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation at this stage”.

The scope of the university’s investigation will look into the allegations made by the student and make “factual findings” on whether the incidents occurred as alleged.

It will also investigate the conduct and behaviour of the lecturer, and whether this gives rise to any concerns that he had acted contrary to the university’s values or if he had breached its staff conduct policy.

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