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Professor fired over sexual harassment allegations

By Cao Chen in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-11 08:00

[Photo by Liang Luwen/For China Daily]

A professor from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics was fired after he was accused of sexually harassing a student, the university confirmed on Monday.

The university announced on its Weibo account that it applies "zero tolerance" to violations of teacher ethics and will deal with the case seriously in accordance with the law and university regulations.

The announcement came after a female student posted on a WeChat account on Dec 6 that Qian Fengsheng, an associate professor at the university's school of accounting, locked her in his car and sexually assaulted her on campus in November.

The student said in the post that she began pursuing a Master's degree in accounting at the university in June, and Qian taught one of the courses.

Qian chatted with the student after the first class. He asked her if she was married, added her on WeChat and maintained excessively close communication with her, sending flirtatious messages like calling her "baby" and saying he wanted to hug her.

The student posted screenshots of the alleged messages.

She said after a class on the evening of Nov 16, she approached Qian to ask him academic questions. He offered to talk with her in his car and then drive her to the university's exit.

However, Qian parked the car in an isolated area, locked the doors and sexually assaulted her.

The student also posted two audio clips recorded in the car after the assault, where a woman was heard crying and the man was asking her to treat him as a lover.

The sexual harassment through WeChat continued after that day, though the man didn't know the student was collecting evidence of the crime under the guidance of a lawyer.

The screenshots of their conversation on WeChat were posted as well. In the conversation, Qian admitted to the sexual assault in the car.

The student said she had passed the evidence to the university and the police, and the case is under investigation.

The case has aroused public attention since it was revealed on Friday. Most netizens expressed anger and criticism toward the teacher's behavior and showed admiration for the students' bravery and wisdom.

Yi Shenghua, a lawyer with Beijing Yongzhe Law Firm, said victims in such cases should collect evidence through texts, pictures and videos, verify their reluctance of engaging in the sexual behavior and report the case to the police once they can ensure their own safety.

"It was really wise of the student to collect evidence, and her timely report will serve as a warning to other people," he said.

Yi said schools should strengthen teacher ethics training to encourage positive behavior and to illustrate negative behavior and its consequences.

"Education to enhance safety awareness should be provided to students, and legal aid and psychological counseling services should be offered to those in need," he said.

Wang Xiaoyan, a lawyer with the same law firm, called for a more comprehensive assessment system at universities.

"The key steps of a program for students, such as dissertation assessment and recommendation for the admission to further postgraduate programs, shouldn't simply be determined by only one teacher. Otherwise it may be misused by some to commit crimes," she said.

Zhou Wenting contributed to this story.

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