Tasha Kunzi, Former ASU Student, Sues for Harassment and Retaliation After Soured Affair With Professor Travis Pratt

Categories: Love Stories

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Image: Arizona State University
Tasha Kunzi, a former doctoral at ASU's criminal-justice school, claims in a federal lawsuit that after she broke off an affair with her professor, she was harassed by him and the school's director.

A former doctoral student says in a federal lawsuit that she was harassed and forced to leave an Arizona State University criminal-justice program after a soured love affair with a married professor.

Tasha Kunzi filed the suit yesterday against the Arizona Board of Regents, Professor Travis Pratt and the director of ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Scott Decker.

We left phone messages for all three, plus Kunzi's lawyer, Stephen Montoya, but haven't heard back from anyone yet.

The eight-page court filing describes how an extramarital relationship between a student and her mentor turned into harassment that was allegedly ignored by an ASU program head.


Pratt's ASU bio states that he's a "nationally recognized expert in the areas of criminological theory and correctional policy." He's written more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and a book, "Addicted to Incarceration."

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Image: ASU
ASU professor Travis Pratt

Kunzi says in the suit that she met Pratt while earning a master's degree at Washington State University in 2007. He acted as her mentor and chaired her Masters Thesis Committee. After he moved to the Phoenix area in 2008, he encouraged her to enroll in the doctoral program at ASU's criminal-justice school, the suit states.

Keeping in mind that we haven't heard Pratt's version of all of this, Kunzi states that after she was accepted in the program, she visited Phoenix for a "meet-and-greet" with ASU faculty in April of 2009. For Pratt and Kunzi, it turned out to be more like a meet-and-greet-plus.

Having begun a "romantic relationship" with Pratt, Kunzi moved to Phoenix that July.

But Pratt's expertise in CSI seems to have rubbed off on his wife. In February of 2010, she "discovered her husband's intimate, extramarital relationship with Ms. Kunzi and thereafter started to regularly intimidate and harass Ms. Kunzi at work."

Kunzi, in addition to laboring on her doctoral program, had also been hired by ASU as a "research assistant" working with Pratt and other faculty members.

With Pratt's wife on the warpath, Kunzi broke off the relationship with the professor. He was "upset" and began harassing her with frequent, "uninvited and unwanted" phone calls and text messages, Kunzi claims.

She alleges that Pratt told others at the school about his affair, hurting her standing in the program. And he would contact her "when he was inebriated and make threatening remarks towards Ms. Kunzi's new boyfriend," the suit states.

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Image: ASU
Scott Decker, director of ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Pratt's wife, for reasons unexplained in the suit, began coming to the school at ASU's' downtown Phoenix campus and staying "for lengthy periods of time" in an office next to Kunzi's work desk.

Decker "failed to respond" to Kunzi's complaints about the harassment, she alleges.

Kunzi also says Decker and Pratt retaliated against her "new" boyfriend, also a criminal-justice doctoral student "by subjecting his academic work to unjustified scrutiny and unfair evaluations."

Kunzi, suspecting that no one at the school wanted to work with her on her dissertation and PhD goal, quit her job and the program in May 2011.

Pratt kept on harassing her, she claims, repeatedly driving by her home on his motorcycle. She claims she had to move to avoid him.

Kunzi exhausted her remedies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing the lawsuit.

She wants to be reinstated in her job with back pay and interest, and seeks a monetary punitive judgment, attorney's fees and an injunction to prevent the defendants from committing similar acts in the future.

We'll let you know if any of the players in this lawsuit calls back.

Click here for 2013 update



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21 comments
adslfjkasldkfj
adslfjkasldkfj

Pratt came from WSU. WSU produced this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/andrew-appleton-washington-state-arrested_n_1901228.html

Pratt knew and associated with Appleton and others who have been accused of similar behaviors.

There have been multiple allegations at WSU against other faculty from the same dept alleging similar behavior. 

Kunzi's lawyers should inquire about what had gone on at WSU. Especially, of former graduate students of Pratt as he may have exhibited similar tendencies with them also. 

kmehlman
kmehlman

Unfortunately, this is not unusual in academia. In my top ranked Criminology program students were regularly harassed and the department chair could have cared less. I am glad this student had the guts to stand up! Most students, including myself, feared the detrimental impact on our careers if we were to speak up....

anh37
anh37

Wow, I love how you people bash the girl but fail to comment on what a piece of crap the prof is and how much of a fool his wife is. She harasses the girl instead of dealing with her husband?? I hate stupid women who go after the other women when it's their husbands they should be pissed at and dealing. Women are just plain stupid. And the prof? You're all so quick to call the girl a slut but he's not? He holds the position of power and its his responsibility to refrain from this crap. She's the one who was forced out of the program and is being demonized. Granted, she's an ahole for messing with someone else's husband but for god sake recognize the fact that he's a big douche too and doctoral programs are effed up in general. The profs do sick stuff to students.

justinhawk655
justinhawk655

This department has been plaged by allegations of harassment and other forms of inappropriate behavior with students since it's inception. Since this program began, numerous female student's have been removed or left  the program. I would not be surprised if it was due to the alleged work place environment.  Not only do the students gossip but some would say that the faculty and staff perpetuate or start the rumors against doctoral students. Female applicants should really consider whether they want to be in a predatory/sexist environment. It's easy to blame Ms. Kunzi but Mr. Pratt and Mr. Decker have as much fault in this as she does. Both Mr. Pratt and Mr. Decker are in a position of power and may have used that to force Ms. Kunzi out of the program. Mr.  Decker is in charge of protecting students but failed to do so.  From someone who focuses on self control, Pratt should have exercised his.

Onemorereader
Onemorereader

This article mentions a "new boyfriend" and his troubles. Why isn't he named here or quoted? I'm not sure he's part of this story or how he's a meaningful part of her complaint without more information.

 

Anyone can go to the ASU website and review policy about instructor/student relationships. That would give us more insight into whether the relationship between Kunzi and Pratt was improper according to the school's policies. Also, she quit her job but now wants it back? She could have made these complaints while she was employed.

 

She took her case to the EEOC and lost? That's a ruling by an impartial group. What did they say?  So how does this suit have merit?

 

This sounds like a cascade of bad decisions on everyone's part.

BooHoo
BooHoo

Slut Shamed in the New Times Weekly. Her mother must be so proud!

Bryan Bazley
Bryan Bazley

Sounds like there wasn't an "adult" in the group. No party is innocent in this issue.

Ron Pies
Ron Pies

ASU, ASU, looks like another loss for the Devils

WhoKnows
WhoKnows

This poor little child needs to learn that her own actions have results.  Kids always try to blame someone else for their own mistakes.

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

'suspecting that no one at the school wanted to work with her on her dissertation and PhD goal'? Hmmmm...

Ramblin Rozy
Ramblin Rozy

hmmmm... i say she'll win...no doubt.. they both shouldve known better

Auggie
Auggie

Cute. I'd do her.

Eleanor_Holguin
Eleanor_Holguin

She's making quite the name for herself. Maybe she should have considered what might happen when having an affair with a married man. One who asks you to move and be with him. One whose wife knows who you are and is "harassing"you.

 

I'm going out on a limb here and I am going to say....thinking with your legs spread open isn't the best way to get your doctorate. Now you will be known publicly as an adulteress...where's that "A" when you need it?

 

Maybe if she was a smart as she would like to think she is she will know now that having affairs with your professor (married or not) isn't the best way to get good grades.

 

Personally I don't care if she sues the school or this guy. He was stupid and so were they if they knew what was going on and didn't do anything about it.

mandymarie7835
mandymarie7835

The whore wants to be paid now. Legalize prostitution.

kmehlman
kmehlman

@Onemorereader the EEOC doesn't evaluate the merit in a win/lose fashion. They will either reject the claim flat out, decide to peruse the prosecution themselves, or give the "right to sue" in federal court, it sounds like they decided to give her the right to sue, which is by no means a "loss".

sarum
sarum

 @Onemorereader EVERY government entity is compromised - ditto so-called private.  "Impartial?"  I agree with you otherwise.

sarum
sarum

@Eleanor_Holguin Agreed except that somehow you and I always get to pay for it. Furthermore, extramarital affairs are criminal, even if not by law, morally, for both parties - neither should be allowed a career in criminal justice.- moral compass impaired. Part of me is glad she filed - cuz of professors taking advantage of students historically but I don't know if this is the case here - each case on its own merits.

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