Update: New details in an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit against UCO

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University of Central Oklahoma

EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – The newest plaintiff in the lawsuit against the University of Central Oklahoma says her job in the college’s theatre department was negatively impacted for her involvement in the Title IX complaint against the now-interim assistant dean.

Six former theatre students say the University knew of their allegations against Kato Buss, an associate professor who is now the Interim Assistant Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design, and failed to take proper action.

According to the new documents, Professor Emily Heugatter has faced backlash from multiple school heads, including now-Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Design, Charleen Weidell and Interim Assistant Dean, Kato Buss for her involvement in the allegations against Buss.

According to the original court documents, Buss would groom the students by adding them to “his close inner circle of favorites.”

The suit says Buss sent the students texts and Snapchats, drank alcohol with them, isolated them from other peers and faculty, and “engaged in behavior that created a sexually charged environment.”

In October 2020, Heugatter was assigned to be an official liaison between Buss and the student who filed the Title IX complaint.

Heugatter says that position and her knowledge of the allegations strained her relationship with Buss and the other department heads.

The suit says on July 8, 2021, Heugatter was informed publicly during a faculty meeting that she was demoted from her program head position while every other returning faculty member in the department received a promotion.

“The Department Chair, Daisy Nystul, made it clear that the decision to demote Heugatter was made with ‘others above her.’ When Heugatter inquired, Nystul confirmed that Dean Weidell made the
demotion decision,” the suit continues. “Heugatter has consistently received positive performance reviews and has successfully fulfilled the duties of the position for four years. There is simply no reason
other than retaliation for her removal.”

As of this filing, Buss is still Interim Assistant Dean for the University of Central Oklahoma College of Fine Arts and Design.

UCO was served with the summons Aug. 3 and has 21 days to respond.

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