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Board of Regents investigation confirms sexual harassment claims at Savannah State

University officials confirm Sergeant Nathaniel Copeland resigned in lieu of termination based on university investigation (Credit:Robert Catanese)

An investigation launched on March 22, 2018 by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents has revealed and confirmed that sexual harassment allegations are true regarding two former SSU PD officers.

FOX 28 has obtained the report through an open records request that details the elicit actions taken by then Sergeant Nathaniel Copeland.

Abda Qullian of the Tate Law Group represents both women in the investigation.

“They had been subjected to sexual harassment from the top right on down,” said Quillian.

She went on to say, ”One of them was in fact a victim of multiple sexual assaults while employed and on duty,” she said.

Quillian said the report confirms that Copeland continued to harass one victim repeatedly.

“Vile texts in particular from Sergeant Copeland from, 'Gee you are looking sexy, I want to come to your house,' to, 'Can't I get a lap dance? Can I get a rub down,'” she said.

Further review of the report reveals that Copeland was quoted saying he wants “To put a baby in her stomach” and that he would like to ‘hit it’ which the report states a reference to sexual intercourse.

And when the victims tried to come forward and report the interactions, Quillian said this happened,

“One of them was told, ‘Well, this is really not a good time because there is all the crime that is taking place on campus. Chief Barnwell was standing behind the president during those press conferences about the last shooting,” she said.

Quillian said her clients continued to try and report the incidents to university officials.

“We really don't want you to report this or if you do, we might fire you. That’s what they lived through. They lived through initially being told, if you put it in writing we might be able to work it out,” she said.

Quillian said the harassment went far beyond elicit text messages.

“You cannot hold overtime out there as a carrot for sexual favors, you cannot attempt to have sex with someone who is your subordinate,” she said.

FOX 28 reached out to university officials for comment. They released the following statement:

Savannah State University concluded the investigation into Sgt. Copeland's conduct last month and he resigned in lieu of termination on August 16, 2018. Savannah State takes all complaints of employment misconduct seriously and fully investigates reports of violations of university policies.

Quillian and her clients await the final investigative report from the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

“They don't want anybody else to have to go through what they have gone through. They fear that others have and may well be as we speak, but they want it to stop,” she said.

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