PVCC professor was investigated in 2002 - East Valley Tribune: News

PVCC professor was investigated in 2002

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Posted: Friday, May 2, 2008 8:20 pm | Updated: 9:45 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A Paradise Valley Community College professor whose student was found comatose inside his home shortly before she died last month was required by administrators six years ago to complete a sexual harassment course and was warned to keep students out of his private practice.

VIDEO: Watch Tribune reporter Nicole Beyer's report

Student found comatose in professors home

The college had investigated a sexual harassment complaint lodged in February 2002 against Michael Todd by a female student, according to documents obtained by the Tribune on Friday.

The student accused Todd of making sexual advances and said he initiated inappropriate touching with her in his office, according to her three-page complaint.

That incident has surfaced after the mysterious death of Andria Ziegler, one of Todd's students in his psychology class.

Ziegler, 19, was pronounced dead about 3 a.m. on April 20 at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital, about a half-hour after emergency crews transported her from Todd's home.

Her death is being investigated as an "unknown death," and not as a homicide, according to Phoenix police. There are no suspects in her death and no suspects are being sought, according to Phoenix police Detective Stacie Derge.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office is awaiting toxicology reports to determine Ziegler's cause of death.

In a letter written in 2002 by Georgina Kranitz, then-president of Paradise Valley Community College, to Todd's accuser, Kranitz said there was not enough evidence to confirm or deny that the alleged incident happened.

In a six-page response to the complaint, Todd denied he had any sexual contact with the student or even touched her.

However, the school required Todd to complete an online sexual harassment program, according to Kranitz's letter to the student. He also was ordered to stop placing students at his private practice for college-related activities, the letter stated.

Todd permitted students to sit in on group counseling sessions he conducted that involved people with criminal backgrounds, according to the letter written by the student.

Julia Devous, director of institutional advancement for Paradise Valley Community College, confirmed the complaint against Todd, and said that it was fully investigated.

Todd, who has taught at PVCC since 2000, was placed on paid administrative leave by the college on April 22. Ziegler's parents informed college administrators of their daughter's death that day, according to Joan Westlake, spokeswoman for Paradise Valley Community College.

Authorities had identified Ziegler as a "Jane Doe" because she did not have any identification on her at Todd's house, according to Phoenix police.

Todd's attorney, Michael Roth, did not return several phone calls seeking comment, but his law office issued a statement on Wednesday:

"Mr. Todd, as well as everyone here at Roth and Roth, would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Andria Ziegler during this tragic time."

The college also is conducting an internal investigation, Devous said.

The college prohibits a romantic relationship between a professor and a student or someone in a position of authority over the student, he said.

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