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Los Angeles Times, 4 August 1994
State Rejects Student's Claim in CSUF Spanking Incident
By Rene Lynch
SANTA ANA -- The state Board of Control has rejected a claim by a Cal State Fullerton student who was struck on the bare behind by a professor, a move that allows the student to file a discrimination lawsuit against the university, officials said Wednesday.
Keary Johns, 23, said he believes racism played a role in the April 27 incident, in which Prof. Emeritus Julian Foster has admitted striking Johns with a ruler as the student was bent over a chair. Johns is African American and Foster -- who said the incident was a joke that got out of hand -- is white.
The Board of Control met Tuesday and rejected Johns' claim, a procedure that must be completed before a lawsuit can be filed against the state, Deputy Executive Officer Curt Soderlund said.
Soderlund said the decision does not reflect the board's view on whether the claim possesses merit.
"Basically, this is the procedural go-ahead for a lawsuit," he said. "This basically means this case involves complex issues of law that would be better addressed in a courtroom."
Santa Ana civil rights attorney Ron Talmo, who is representing Johns, said he intends to file a lawsuit within weeks seeking $1 million in damages.
Johns says he was trying to drop Foster's class when the professor said he would first have to submit to a swatting. Johns said he only agreed to drop his sweat pants because he wanted to graduate and needed to keep a failing grade from appearing on his report card.
Foster, however, says he was reprimanding Johns for not taking his schoolwork seriously when Johns suggested a spanking as punishment. Foster said he thought it was a joke and was playing along and was shocked when Johns dropped his pants. He said he regrets "lightly swatting" Johns as part of the joke, but stresses that race played no role.
School officials said proper action has been taken against the teacher, but declined to elaborate. Officials said Foster is not scheduled to teach at the school during coming semesters.
Copyright (c) 1994 Times Mirror Company
Previous: 10 June 1994: Swat Leads to Discrimination Complaint Against Professor
Follow-up: 10 February 1995: Cal State Fullerton Graduate Files Suit Over Spanking
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