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Prof in sexual harassment case says charge ‘fabricated’

By Margaux Ortiz
First Posted 03:54:00 05/10/2007

Filed Under: Local authorities

MANILA, Philippines ? Saying he had been unfairly accused, a theater actor and director told the Inquirer the other day that the sexual harassment charges filed against him by one of his students were fabricated.

Arsenio Lizaso, a professor of mass communications at St. Paul University (formerly St. Paul College) in Quezon City, said his student filed the charges against him ?because she had no legitimate excuse for failing nine out of 10 of her subjects that semester.?

?She felt betrayed because I was supposed to help her, and she did not expect that I would also give her a failing mark,? he added.

According to him, he first met his accuser in 2004 when the school?s nuns asked him to help her with her subjects.

?The girl had just shifted from nursing to mass communications, and the nuns said she may have a potential in broadcast journalism,? Lizaso said.

The professor said he became close to the student, guiding her in her classes and helping her with her schoolwork. However, during the first semester of school year 2005-2006, the girl seldom attended her classes, including his, the teacher said.

?It would have been impossible for me to text and call her all the time, as she had accused me of doing,? Lizaso said. More importantly, according to the theater director, he was ?terribly busy? during that time. ?I was preparing for the 31st ITI-UNESCO World Congress from July 2005 to June 2006. It would have been inconceivable for me to waste my time harassing somebody,? he said.

Because of her habitual absences, Lizaso said the girl failed all but one of her subjects.

Lizaso also denied having kissed the girl on the face, saying he was with his production staff on the night he was supposed to have met his student at Club Filipino.

The Quezon City Prosecutor?s Office last week found probable cause in the sexual harassment case filed against Lizaso, saying the respondent took advantage of his moral ascendancy to obtain sexual favors from his student.

The case was elevated to the Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 31. Court records showed that the respondent had posted a P2,000 cash bond for his temporary liberty.

In his resolution, Assistant City Prosecutor Ben de la Cruz said the complainant accused Lizaso of frequently calling her up and sending her text messages containing indecent proposals with sexual innuendos from November 2005 to March 2006.

The complainant also alleged that in March 2006, Lizaso told her to meet him in Club Filipino in San Juan so she could submit her school project to him. ?The respondent allegedly managed to kiss the complainant on her face despite her efforts to evade this unwanted sexual transgression,? the resolution said.

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