Tasha Kunzi, Former ASU Student, Sues for Harassment and Retaliation After Soured Affair With Professor Travis Pratt
A former doctoral student says in a federal lawsuit that she was harassed and forced to leave an Arizona State University criminal-justice program after a soured love affair with a married professor.
Tasha Kunzi filed the suit yesterday against the Arizona Board of Regents, Professor Travis Pratt and the director of ASU's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Scott Decker.
We left phone messages for all three, plus Kunzi's lawyer, Stephen Montoya, but haven't heard back from anyone yet.
The eight-page court filing describes how an extramarital relationship between a student and her mentor turned into harassment that was allegedly ignored by an ASU program head.
Pratt's ASU bio states that he's a "nationally recognized expert in the areas of criminological theory and correctional policy." He's written more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and a book, "Addicted to Incarceration."
Kunzi says in the suit that she met Pratt while earning a master's degree at Washington State University in 2007. He acted as her mentor and chaired her Masters Thesis Committee. After he moved to the Phoenix area in 2008, he encouraged her to enroll in the doctoral program at ASU's criminal-justice school, the suit states.
Keeping in mind that we haven't heard Pratt's version of all of this, Kunzi states that after she was accepted in the program, she visited Phoenix for a "meet-and-greet" with ASU faculty in April of 2009. For Pratt and Kunzi, it turned out to be more like a meet-and-greet-plus.
Having begun a "romantic relationship" with Pratt, Kunzi moved to Phoenix that July.
But Pratt's expertise in CSI seems to have rubbed off on his wife. In February of 2010, she "discovered her husband's intimate, extramarital relationship with Ms. Kunzi and thereafter started to regularly intimidate and harass Ms. Kunzi at work."
Kunzi, in addition to laboring on her doctoral program, had also been hired by ASU as a "research assistant" working with Pratt and other faculty members.
With Pratt's wife on the warpath, Kunzi broke off the relationship with the professor. He was "upset" and began harassing her with frequent, "uninvited and unwanted" phone calls and text messages, Kunzi claims.
She alleges that Pratt told others at the school about his affair, hurting her standing in the program. And he would contact her "when he was inebriated and make threatening remarks towards Ms. Kunzi's new boyfriend," the suit states.
Pratt's wife, for reasons unexplained in the suit, began coming to the school at ASU's' downtown Phoenix campus and staying "for lengthy periods of time" in an office next to Kunzi's work desk.
Decker "failed to respond" to Kunzi's complaints about the harassment, she alleges.
Kunzi also says Decker and Pratt retaliated against her "new" boyfriend, also a criminal-justice doctoral student "by subjecting his academic work to unjustified scrutiny and unfair evaluations."
Kunzi, suspecting that no one at the school wanted to work with her on her dissertation and PhD goal, quit her job and the program in May 2011.
Pratt kept on harassing her, she claims, repeatedly driving by her home on his motorcycle. She claims she had to move to avoid him.
Kunzi exhausted her remedies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing the lawsuit.
She wants to be reinstated in her job with back pay and interest, and seeks a monetary punitive judgment, attorney's fees and an injunction to prevent the defendants from committing similar acts in the future.
We'll let you know if any of the players in this lawsuit calls back.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.
- Inmates Accuse Arizona of Experimenting with Lethal-Injection Drugs
- 10 Things Arizonans Hate About Snowbirds
- Scottsdale Couple Are Pioneers in Tiny-Home Movement in Arizona