Exclusive: Records show ex-UND professor let go for inappropriately touching colleague

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) Documents obtained by Valley News Live reveal what led to the firing of a popular University of North Dakota professor.

After getting a message by a whistleblower, we received university records showing allegations of work place sexual harassment.

Kenneth Foltz's career at UND came to an end in May as aviation professor for inappropriately touching a female colleague, according to emails and his attorney.

“This is the first time this had ever been alleged against him and it was unjustified. What happened was unintentional,” Leo Wilking, Foltz’s attorney, said.

Foltz was formerly employed at UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Wilking said Foltz slapped the female colleague's backside not in a sexual manner but as a way to congratulate her for losing weight.

Emails also revealed that Foltz was reprimanded by the school for contacting the colleague after she reported the allegation. Foltz said the touching was not serious enough to be fired.

“He was an excellent professor, probably the most popular professor at the aviation school and he's thrown out,” Wilking said.

The Rape and Abuse Crisis Center in Fargo sees 3,000 people a year, who claim they're victims of sexual abuse or harassment. When it comes to deciding fault, intention doesn't matter, according to the center.

“It's holding people accountable regardless of what intent,” Christopher Johnson, Chief Executive Officer at the crisis center, said. “[In] sexual harassment intent is irrelevant. What my intent was is not the point.”

Johnson said the ideal work place has clear policies and guidelines that include repercussions for bad behavior.

“It’s having very clear expectations of employees and saying this is the type of culture we're building,” Johnson said. “These are the things that are acceptable and these are the things that are not acceptable, and then having a very clear process in which people can raise concerns.”

According to Johnson, leaders in the work place must create a culture where the lines aren't blurred and people's boundaries are respected.

In a statement, the University of North Dakota stated all university policies and procedures were followed in making their decision. They declined speaking on camera when asked.