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Professor's dating relationship with student violated East Tennessee State University policy, investigators recommend discipline

Becky Campbell • Updated May 16, 2018 at 12:06 PM

Editor’s Note: ETSU Professor Anthony Masino admitted having an intimate relationship with a university student in the accounting department where he taught, but he maintained the relationship began after she was a student in his classes. The woman said the relationship started in September 2016 while she was Masino’s student, creating a power dynamic between the two, which was the determination of Title IX investigators.

An East Tennessee State University professor could face disciplinary action after the report from an internal investigation alleged he violated the institution’s policy prohibiting student-teacher romantic relationships and then created a hostile environment for the woman after their relationship ended.

Anthony Masino, associate professor and assistant chair of the Accountancy Department, admitted to investigators and colleagues that he had an intimate relationship with a female student from September 2016 until December 2017, according to the investigative report. During that time, the woman was a student in two of Masino’s tax classes.

"Based on the totality of all evidence, interviews, and documentation of this complaint, the investigators determine that Anthony Masino created a hostile environment for (unnamed complainant) that included acts of retaliation," the investigative report, approved May 10 for submission to ETSU President Brian Noland, stated. "This was caused by Masino's repeated sharing of information related to (unnamed complainant) broadly throughout the Department of Accountancy and, by a preponderance of evidence, the investigators have determined that Anthony Masino violated Policy P-080."

The full recommendation by the investigators — Tracy Barry and Dr. Michelle Byrd — was that “Masino be held accountable for this violation through response by appropriate university officials.” It is requested that President (Brian) Noland review, adopt and approve this memorandum. The report and recommendation was sent to Noland on May 10.

As of Tuesday, no administrative action had been taken and Masino had not been suspended or disciplined in any way. He has 10 days to file an appeal with Noland.

According to the woman’s account in the investigative report, Masino pursued a relationship with her in September 2016 when she was in one of his accounting classes. She said Masino assured her there was nothing wrong with them becoming involved because he had “written the ETSU Consensual Relationship Policy,” for the university. The woman said she resisted Masino’s advances at first, but later relented and started seeing him.

The report stated that Masino’s account of what happened was that the woman pursued him and he tried to dissuade her and told her to find someone her own age. At some point that month, the woman became friends with Masino’s nieces, who lived with him at the time, and began spending time at his home. According to the report, he told investigators the intimate relationship didn’t start until December 2016, after the semester had ended, and that “he probably fell in love with her before he ever touched her.”

Even with the age difference between Masino and the woman — at least 10 years, according to the report — the two “clicked,” Masino told the investigators and the relationship became very intense very quickly. The woman spent time with Masino at his house and with his children, according to the accounts they both gave. The relationship, as described in the woman’s complaint and the investigative report, was up and down with both accusing the other of not being honest and cheating.

When the relationship ended, both made allegations against the other of stalking and harassment incidents. Masino filed several reports with ETSU public safety earlier this year with claims that the woman had followed him on campus and flipped him off, which are similar to claims the woman made against the professor.

As a result of the allegations lodged by both of them, Masino and the woman took out orders of protection against each other.

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