(CBS) — Two former students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are accusing a former professor of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. They have filed a complaint in federal court, claiming the university is protecting Gary Xu, despite numerous allegations and complaints against him.
One of the women, Vina Sun, told “CBS This Morning” correspondent Meg Oliver that Professor Xu abused her for around two years, using the fact she was an international student against her.
Sun showed Oliver a photo she said was taken after one of her many beatings at the hands of the former professor. In 2013, when she was 19, the married 45-year-old became her professor, and she says they started a relationship that quickly became abusive. “He tried to kill me,” she said.
“I didn’t seriously date anyone before him. I didn’t know what was love.”
Oliver asked, “How many times did he rape you?”
“It’s too much, I don’t remember,” Sun replied. “It’s too traumatizing. but I would say none of the sex, especially after the fight, was consensual.”
The fights were frequent, she said, and in one instance, she thought she would die. On one occasion, Sun said Xu tried to run her over. “He was after me, and he went to the parking lot and started his car driving after me trying to crash me in the street,” Sun said. “I was so scared, and I was actually surprised that someone actually just try to kill me in public.”
Oliver asked, “How many times did you report professor Xu to the university?”
“I believe eventually three times,” Sun said. “I felt like they wanted to sweep it under the rug, that’s for sure.”
According to the complaint, after that incident, Xu was put on a paid sabbatical by the university. For two school years, he was paid his full salary of more than $85,000. In 2018, he was allegedly allowed to resign and given a $10,000 bonus. He then went on to teach at other universities.
Sun’s attorney, Dr. Anne Olivarius, said, “She was so vulnerable, he had so much power over her. The university didn’t seem to pick up on that, inquire into that. Nobody followed up.”
According to a recent investigation by ProPublica and NPR Illinois, since last year, “allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct,” have surfaced against three professors and an administrator from the school, and “in each instance, the public wasn’t told by the university until news organizations or others brought the allegations to light.”
- Assaults, bullying, rape: A lawsuit against one professor claims a university didn’t stop him (Pro Publica/NPR Illinois)
- One campus. Seven professors facing harassment accusations. Few consequences. (Pro Publica/NPR Illinois)
Sun, who said she has been diagnosed with PTSD, is trying to move forward.
Oliver asked, “Are you amazed that you’re still alive?”
“Sometimes, yes,” Sun said. “And I’m gonna live this the whole life.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the university said it’s aware of the complaint and is reviewing it, adding it “investigates and takes appropriate action whenever conduct is reported that may jeopardize or impact the safety or security of our students or others.”
Phone numbers for Gary Xu have been disconnected, and “CBS This Morning” hasn’t been able to reach him.