In February, Ricardo Romo, longtime president of University of Texas at San Antonio, was unexpectedly put on administrative leave — months before he had intended to retire. The only explanation University of Texas System gave at the time
was that it had something to do with Romo's "conduct."
But documents from the internal investigation, first obtained Monday by the Express-News,
give us a better idea of what ultimately led to Romo's March 3 resignation.
UT's investigation into claims made by three of Romo's female employees "supports the conclusion that President Romo engaged in sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against the victims," the report concludes. The women said they feared they'd lose their jobs for complaining to Romo or the administration — so instead they flagged UT officials through anonymous letters and phone calls in January.
According to testimony from victims and witnesses, Romo regularly bombarded his female employees with unwelcome, "perverted" touching — including long hugs and waist-grabbing. One woman told investigators that Romo had taken photos of her without her consent. Investigators found photographs of the three employees saved on Romo’s computers.
When one woman told him these hugs made her uncomfortable, he allegedly replied: “You know I’m like that.”
That appears to be the basic argument Romo's attorney, Ricardo Cedillo, is now making. Romo's hugs, or "abrazos," are a normal part of Latino culture, argued Cedillo, one of Romo's childhood friends, in a letter to UT administrators obtained by the Express-News
. According to Cedillo, the UT investigators did not take this into account in their report (which he called a "character assassination").
"He’s an icon, he’s someone that we’ve all looked up to," Cedillo wrote. "I respect him and I’ve admired him most of my life."
According to the UT report, Romo was surprised by the women's allegations — but promptly called all three "liars."