Professor’s mysterious exit included confidentiality pact

Vincent Martin letter> Kerry McCabe/THE REVIEW
Former professor Vincent Martin was accused of sexually harassing a female student.

BY
EDITOR IN CHIEF

Former university professor Vincent Martin’s had a confidentiality agreement in place with Delaware after his departure from the school in 2011.

The agreement is mentioned in letters between Michele D. Allen, Martin’s Delaware lawyer, and Marc Mootchnik, General Counsel for San Diego State University (SDSU). Martin left Delaware in 2011 before being hired at SDSU. He was recently terminated from SDSU for “unprofessional conduct and failure and refusal to perform the normal duties of his position.”

Arbitration documents from SDSU have shown that Martin’s time at Delaware ended as a result of a sexual harassment allegation. He left the school shortly after a study abroad trip to Madrid, Spain in the summer of 2010.

The University of Delaware declined to comment on the existence of a confidentiality agreement, and has declined comment in the past regarding the reason Martin left Delaware. Allen could not be reached for comment via phone or email.

Before working for Delaware, Martin had an unnamed position at the University of North Florida (UNF). In response to The Review’s Freedom of Information Act request for all documents and records regarding his time at UNF, including complaints about misconduct, Public Relations director Joanna Norris said the only information they have from his time at the school is the dates of his employment, which were from August 7, 1997 until August 13, 1998.

Mootchnik said the issue arose after Allen sent a letter to SDSU, dated September 14, 2015, alleging that the school had received confidential information regarding Martin’s exit from Delaware, and had improperly used it during their arbitration meetings with him in July. She requested they reveal the source of the information and stop using it against her client, mentioning an “agreement” in the process.

“Failure to comply with this request will force my Firm to seek Court intervention to prevent the University from using and disseminating this confidential information and seek damages against the University for tortuously [sic] interfering with Mr. Martin’s agreement,” Allen’s letter said.

Allen said in her letter the usage of this information had led SDSU to ask Martin the following questions during a disciplinary hearing: “Isn’t it true you resigned from the University of Delaware with a settlement agreement?” and “Have you been accused of sexual harassment?”

In a written response to Allen two days later, Mootchnik said that those questions had been based on prior experiences with SDSU professors accused of sexual harassment, and that such professors normally have a “history of similar behavior.”

Additionally, Mootchnik’s letter stated that Delaware provided no information regarding the circumstances surrounding Martin’s exit from the university.

“We just took a shot in the dark, basically,” Mootchnik said in an interview. “We presumed that there was something, that he was let go from the University of Delaware because of some allegations.”

Confidentiality agreements are not uncommon among private institutions, he said, and added that had SDSU known of such an agreement, free of context, prior to hiring Martin, it would not necessarily have been a red flag for them either way.

Mootchnik, who said he has never actually seen the confidentiality agreement, also said he was unaware of any agreement between Delaware and Martin until after the arbitration meeting in July. He heard about it then from a colleague, and said Allen’s letter “basically confirmed” its existence.

Since Mootchnik’s response there have been no further developments regarding a lawsuit, and he has not heard from Allen on the subject.

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