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Lawsuit alleges decade of sexual misconduct by former New Mexico State University professor

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- A recent lawsuit filed against New Mexico State University and others alleges a former professor "targeted female students and committed pervasive sexual misconduct for a decade."

A news release by Lane + Linnenburger + Lane and the Law Office of Meredith Baker, attorneys representing a former student, identified only as Jane Doe, claims the university did nothing to stop him.

According to the lawsuit, long-time professor in the university’s Kinesiology Department Joseph Berning allegedly “harassed and groomed female students for years, coercing them into sexual relations and bragging about the same.”

The suit claims Berning taught a course with his partner, Carole Carson, who was also his former student, according to the news release.

In their class, the plaintiff said Berning allegedly began "grooming her" and "pushing boundaries with inappropriately explicit comments and questions."

The news release states, he allegedly "abused the student over the course of several years including “non-consensual sexual relations with Plaintiff on several occasions, including at locations on campus such as his office.”

The release adds both Carson and Berning allegedly also had "non-consensual sexual relations with Plaintiff together” by “[u]sing their position, authority, and influence as NMSU educators” to manipulate and control her.

According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe alleges she notified NMSU and the university conducted a "Title IX investigation." However, after the investigation, the suit alleges NMSU dismissed the proceedings, after uncovering damaging information about Berning.

The news release claims NMSU let Berning quietly leave the university with his retirement intact.

According to the lawsuit, this is not the first time a female student had reported Berning for sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit alleges NMSU knew about an incident in 2013 in which another student reported Berning allegedly "locked her in his office, made her vulnerable, and then made aggressive sexual advances towards her."

The lawsuit claims NMSU did not take action to stop Berning or correct his behavior.

ABC-7 has reached out to NMSU about the lawsuit. The university declined to comment due to ongoing litigation.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Brianna Perez


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