Retired UMBC professor sues university, state for more than $30 million

Hosmane says he was forced to retire under false pretenses when sexual assault charges, later dropped, were filed against him

February 08, 2011|By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

A retired University of Maryland, Baltimore County chemistry professor, who was cleared last year of charges that he sexually assaulted a graduate student, is suing the university and the state for more than $30 million, saying that he was forced to retire on false pretenses and that his reputation was damaged.

Ramachandra S. Hosmane, 66, retired from UMBC at the beginning of last year, when he still faced criminal sexual assault charges connected to an alleged incident with one of his graduate students. Those charges, which Hosmane called baseless, were dropped in Baltimore County Circuit Court on the day the hearing was scheduled.

In his civil suit, filed in December in Baltimore County Circuit Court, Hosmane says that a lawyer for the university threatened him with a two-year suspension without pay or the loss of his pension so that he would retire while the criminal charges were pending. The suit says that neither option was available to the university under its policies governing tenured faculty.

Of Hosmane's retirement, the suit says, "he did so involuntarily and under extreme duress on the basis of false and/or misleading information."

Hosmane faced another round of criminal charges in April, including obstruction of justice and attempting to intimidate a juror. But he was found not guilty of all charges at a Sept. 22 trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Hosmane's civil suit alleges that the second round of criminal charges were prompted by UMBC officials in retaliation for his attorney having raised questions about the university's handling of his retirement.

The suit further alleges that after an internal disciplinary hearing at UMBC, the university's former director of human relations told Hosmane, who is Hindu, that she made decisions by "praying to Christ."

The suit says the university's actions violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws and says Hosmane also has complaints pending before the Maryland Commission on Human Relations and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Asked about the suit, a UMBC spokeswoman said, "None of the parties listed in this case have been served or seen the complaint, so there is nothing to comment on at this time."

Neither Hosmane nor his attorney, Neil Lebowitz, immediately returned calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Hosmane's suit says the sexual assault allegations from his former student were motivated by disputes about her research. It says she "knew very well that one way to get rid of the seemingly arduous tasks that lay before her was to rid herself of the taskmaster."

The suit asks for $2.5 million in damages on each of 12 counts, including misrepresentation, fraud and defamation, and also asks for $50,517 in damages for Hosmane's accrued leave time, which he says the university never paid.

Hosmane, a Columbia resident, worked at UMBC for more than 27 years and had won awards as a teacher and researcher. After he was accused of sexual assault, several former students praised his work as a teacher and mentor in comments to the campus newspaper.

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