JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former University of North Florida dean says he was coerced into resigning after being caught in a sex act on campus.
Dr. Mark Tumeo took the stand Tuesday, arguing for his job back at the university.
On October 2, 2018, a soccer coach saw the dean and another man outside an office in the stadium.
Tumeo, a married man, said UNF’s police chief questioned him and told him no crime was committed.
“He indicated it was consensual with another adult. It wasn’t an employee or student or someone connected to the university, so I felt it would at least be kept quiet,” Tumeo said.
Tumeo said he was put on administrative leave that night. The next morning, he got a call from the provost, asking if he planned to resign.
“She said, ‘This is very serious.’ I said, ‘I understand.’ Then she said, ‘You have two minutes to resign or we’ll start an investigation,’” Tumeo said.
He testified he wanted to seek legal advice, and that he was distraught and hadn’t slept all night.
“I said, ‘Can I have some time to think about this? Can I contact somebody? Can I come in and make my case?’ At that point she paused. I don’t know if she turned to someone, but she said, ‘No, but we’ll give you three minutes,’” he said.
Tumeo’s lawyer says this was coercion – grounds that he can challenge his termination.
The lawyer for UNF’s board of trustees says the provost needed an answer, they were preparing a statement to release to the public about the incident.
They said there was no threat, and Tumeo had 30 days to file a grievance but didn’t.
Tumeo says he's now working as a senior engineer and has been turned down for two jobs as a dean at universities.
He's also seeking damages, which his lawyer said is a matter of backpay as a result of his resignation.
Tumeo wants the judge to declare his resignation was coerced so he can be reinstated as a professor at the university.
“I’d like to go back and teach. I love to teach. My students loved me. I’m a good teacher. If they’ll have me back ,” Tumeo said.
The judge could make a decision Tuesday after hearing from four more witnesses called by UNF’s board of trustees lawyers, including the provost and UNF’s president.
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