Cal student sues, alleges sex harassment by school therapist

A sexual harassment lawsuit filed Thursday by a student at the University of California at Berkeley against a former university employee the student saw in 2016 for therapy is just another example of a “pattern” of sexual harassment at the university, according to the student’s lawyer.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, names Eric Samuels as a defendant in the case along with the Regents of the University of California.

At the time of the alleged offenses Samuels was a post-doctoral fellow at the Tang Center’s Counseling and Psychological Services on the UC Berkeley campus. Samuels allegedly had started providing counseling to the student, according to the complaint.

The complaint was filed on behalf of Justina Roe, whose real name is not listed in the suit.

According to Roe’s attorney John Winer, Samuels allegedly videotaped Roe at least once during one of the therapy sessions he had with her and may have used it for his personal gratification.

According to the complaint, the camera should have been pointed at Samuels in order to preserve confidentiality, which a counseling and psychological services director told Roe after the videotaping.

According to the complaint, Samuels allegedly pointed the camera at Roe during their third therapy session and began by asking her questions about boys and her sexual experience, which made Roe uncomfortable.

Winer said:

“We believe very strongly this therapist was taking video to take home and masturbate.”

From the beginning Roe was uncomfortable with Samuels, according to the complaint. He made extended eye contact with her and had an almost glazed look in his eyes when he greeted her for the first time, the complaint said.

In their first therapy session, Samuels allegedly asked Roe whether she had been sexually abused.

During the second therapy session, he allegedly asked her a question about sex that made her “extremely uncomfortable.”

The complaint said afterwards she tried to convince herself that the question came from “a professional place.” Roe started therapy to deal with anxiety and stress when she went to CPS, according to the complaint.

Winer said Samuels is no longer at the university. According to Winer, Samuels was scheduled to leave at the end of the 2016 and he was allegedly suspended from the university for only a day.

Winer said of Roe:

“She doesn’t trust the university.”

Roe now has to deal with the alleged harassment before she can get help for the stress and anxiety she went to get help for, Winer said.

According to Winer, “There appears to be a pattern” of sexual harassment at the university, citing a handful of recent sexual misconduct allegations involving university staff.

University spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said the university has not been served with the suit so it’s premature to comment on it.