UNLV investigated compliance director Eric Toliver for sexual harassment

Updated February 15, 2018 - 7:59 pm

UNLV compliance director Eric Toliver was under investigation for sexual harassment when he resigned last Friday, sources said.

The investigation began about three weeks ago, according to the sources, before national law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. conducted its own probe on behalf of the university. The firm, which has a Las Vegas office, declined comment Thursday. Sources said they didn’t know whether the investigation had concluded.

The sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the investigation was prompted after at least two women came forward to the university, with the number growing from there.

Toliver was on administrative leave at the time of his resignation but had worked as recently as Feb. 5.

Two women who worked as students under the direction of Toliver in the 1990s contacted the Review-Journal after it reported Feb. 8 that he was under investigation for harassment. Sources confirmed this week that it was for sexual harassment.

The UNLV handbook “prohibits romantic or sexual relationships between members of the university community when one of the individuals involved has direct professional influence or direct authority over the other.”

Spokesmen for UNLV president Len Jessup and athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said they would not comment because it’s a personnel issue. Toliver reported to Jessup’s office.

Vanessa Smith, whose maiden name is Herman, said she came into contact with Toliver about 25 years ago when she was a freshman at UNLV and he was her academic adviser. She said Toliver began making advances about a year later, and later became a peer academic adviser in the Student Development Center “where he held a supervisory position over me,” Smith said in an email.

Smith, who now lives in Washington state, said the two dated but that she broke it off after discovering evidence he had seen other women.

“I was young,” Smith said in a phone interview. “It was very subtle. It never felt forced. It was uncomfortable for sure because it happened often.”

She said she complained to the university.

“In essence I was completely dismissed and left with a helpless feeling,” Smith said in the email. “I thought, so many times, about calling the newspapers, calling an attorney, or anyone who could effect change to this university that was obviously not protecting students from this serial predator. That is my biggest regret about the entire experience.

“I am hoping some revisions will come to UNLV’s policies and investigative procedures so these types of situations are not repeated or tolerated any longer. The protection of the students should be taken seriously when predatory behavior is being exhibited by staff or other students. 26ish years is a few decades short of making this situation right by the students he affected. A formal apology from the university would be appreciated.”

Heather Allison, whose maiden name is Howard, was a junior in 1995 working as a peer academic adviser and then was promoted to a full-time adviser position. She said Toliver, who was her supervisor, quickly pursued her and they eventually began dating.

Allison, who now lives in Northern Nevada, said the relationship ended after four years because she also discovered evidence he had seen other women.

“I wanted to come forward, but I felt nobody would believe me because Eric was so credible,” Allison said in a phone interview. “I let it go.”

Toliver was in his 26th year at UNLV and 18th as executive associate athletic director of compliance when he resigned. Attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful, and friends of Toliver said they have not been able to get in contact with him.

Included with his duties with the athletic department’s compliance office, Toliver was responsible for facilitating complaints with the university’s Title IX coordinator. Title IX law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and athletics in schools that receive federal funding, and also covers harassment and fairness.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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