FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – An investigation into the former president of Fresno State’s handling of misconduct claims against the former vice president of student affairs has been completed, describing Joseph Castro as having “a blind spot” about Frank Lamas that negatively influenced his response to Lamas’ behavior.
On Wednesday, the university released a report on the findings of an external independent investigation into how Castro handled several allegations of misconduct aimed at Lamas.
The report found that Castro had failed to “more rigorously” address the reports of alleged misconduct filed against Lamas, negatively affecting the school’s response to the allegations.
While the university had taken action to explore and address each of the reports, the investigation found that some of the responses did not meet policy standards laid out by Executive Order 1096.
Between 2014 and 2019, the campus reportedly received nine reports of inappropriate conduct by Lamas, with seven reports being filed between mid-2014 to August 2016.
The complaints included allegations of Lamas partying off campus, verbal gender-based misconduct, bullying, staring at a female student-employee, and two instances of retaliation.
Instead of taking significant action to address the allegations, the report claims that Castro had instead continued to show support for Lamas even after the evidence “confirmed findings of Lama’s alleged misconduct.”
Lamas had publicly disputed the findings of an October 2019 investigation into the complaints but ultimately agreed to retire after reaching a settlement with California State University (CSU).
The settlement, which was recommended by Castro, not only required Lamas to retire rather than be fired, but he also had to agree to never work on campus or in the CSU system again.
According to the report, the settlement also gave Lamas an additional $260,000 and guaranteed him a letter of reference from Castro to help him in his search for a new job.
After the settlement was reached, Castro released a positive retirement announcement for Lamas, praising his accomplishments during his time at the school. That announcement was not required by the agreement.
The report found that Castro’s ongoing support for Lamas during his retirement was “inappropriate given the circumstances” of the misconduct allegations against him.
On Feb. 17, 2022, Castro resigned from his position at the school, acknowledging that mistakes had been made while handling the allegations against Lamas.
Castro went on to become the chancellor of CSU, but resigned after an extensive six-month investigation by USA Today was released about his handling of the Lamas situation.
In a statement in response to the report, Castro wrote that he disagrees with several aspects of the investigators’ findings as they do not align with the documentation provided.
“University leaders in the United States face complex and delicate personnel issues every day. I have learned many lessons from my handling of the Title IX matter involving Dr. Frank Lamas at Fresno State. These lessons will ensure that I am an even more effective leader in the future, including in the area of victims rights. I will share these lessons publicly to assist higher education leaders and governing board members across the nation who face similar personnel matters.”Joseph Castro
After the allegations came to light, current Fresno State President Jiménez-Sandoval started a Title IX Task Force in order to “create a safer and more equitable campus.”
You can read the full summary of the investigation by clicking here.