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OU investigation finds former drama professor accused of sexual misconduct violated Title IX policies

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Title IX Office

The OU Sexual Misconduct Office and Institutional Equity and Title IX Office pictured Jan. 30, 2017.

A former OU drama professor recently accused of sexual misconduct has been found to have violated Title IX’s Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment policy from 2010 to 2011.

The Title IX investigation found “sufficient evidence” that Matthew Ellis, former associate professor of movement and acting, engaged in a sexual relationship with his then-student Taylor Schackmann, 2013 School of Drama graduate. During this time, an “inherent power difference” was present between them that interfered with Schackmann’s academic environment, according to the Notice of Outcome letter sent to Schackmann from OU’s interim sexual misconduct officer Kristen Burkett.

Ellis resigned on Sept. 28 after an initial Title IX investigation found him to be in violation of the consensual sexual relationships policy. However, because his resignation is not effective until Dec. 31, the Title IX office was able to continue to investigate him for Schackmann’s sexual assault allegation. Though the resignation is not yet effective, Ellis was barred from returning to campus in September.

Ellis and Schackmann had a sexual relationship while he was her professor, play director and academic advisor in the spring and summer of 2011. After being scared of reporting for years and dealing with the emotional trauma and turmoil that was a result, Schackmann made her report to Title IX through a mandatory reporter on Sept. 22 of this year.

When detailing the relationship between her and Ellis to Title IX investigators, Schackmann said that the sexual encounters that occurred between them were sexual assault because she was unable to consent due to the unequal power dynamic.

After his resignation, Ellis was contacted again by Title IX as the office began to look into the sexual assault allegation. According to emails Schackmann shared with The Daily, Ellis responded in written form by Nov. 6 and the Title IX office said they were going to continue to try and set up a phone interview with him.

Monday morning, just over a week before his resignation is effective, the Title IX office told Schackmann the investigation was concluded.

“This information will be forwarded to the Provost Office and the Dean of the College of Fine Arts for appropriate administrative action,” Burkett said in the letter.

Jana Hayes is a senior reporter on The Daily's news desk. She is a journalism senior and has worked at The Daily since her freshman year, having held several reporter and editor positions on both the news and enterprise desks.

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