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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Former Chico State professor in court for sexual misconduct allegations among others

Photo+of+former+Chico+State+professor+Christopher+Marks.
Old faculty photo of former Chico State professor Christopher Marks. Photo Credit: Wayback Machine

A Chico State math professor who was fired in 2022 for Title IX violations is being accused in Butte County Superior Court’s civil division of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against a student, including sex for favorable academic treatment, according to court documents. 

The suit also accuses the California State Board of Trustees, which is the California State University system’s governing body representing Chico State, of alleged negligence in failing to stop Marks from having illicit sexual relationships with students.

The complaint alleges that Marks’ Chico State coworkers, including managers, failed to intervene when they “…knew or reasonably should have known that his behavior was abnormal, troubling, and suggestive of a proclivity to have inappropriate sexual contact with students.” They did not name those accused of negligence or explain the alleged problematic oversight. The CSU Trustees deny the allegations. 

The first of two complaints was filed on April 29, 2021, by former Chico State student Molly Roe and attorney Paul A. Matiasic with nine allegations against the two defendants–CSU Board of Trustees and Marks–with the allegations against Marks including sexual battery and false imprisonment.

 

 

 

 

The initial complaint claimed Marks engaged in sexual conduct with several undergraduate students at Chico State. Marks could not be reached for comment, and he has no attorney on file with the court. 

Court documents filed by the plaintiff’s attorney claim that Marks has had sexual relationships with “several” students. 

 

 

The initial complaint was submitted to the Superior Court of California on April 29, 2021. Document Credit: Superior Court of California, County of Butte
Document Credit: Superior Court of California, County of Butte

 

 

Andrew Staples, public relations manager for Chico State’s University Communications, mentions that Title IX was unaware of any allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment against Marks independent of those alleged by Roe.

According to Staples, “While the Title IX office discovered during their investigation that Marks had allegedly been involved in two separate sexual relationships with students, neither of the other students made claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and thus those issues were beyond the scope of the investigation.” 

A second civil court complaint made on or about March 18, 2020, alleges that Marks engaged in sexual assault and battery to Roe, resulting in injuries and damages at Roe’s home.

According to Staples, Roe did file a report with the Chico Police Department. At the time of publication, Chico Police Department hadn’t responded to numerous requests to confirm that a complaint was made.

An Action News Now article, also mentions that “Roe did file in early 2020, but District Attorney Mike Ramsey said that there are no criminal charges for Marks and that he isn’t even in their system.” 

The civil complaint also alleges that on April 16, Marks and Roe exchanged text messages where Marks suggested performing sexual acts to ensure her passing Mark’s class that semester.

 

The initial complaint was submitted to the Superior Court of California on April 29, 2021. Document Credit: Superior Court of California, County of Butte
Document Credit: Superior Court of California, County of Butte

 

At the time of publication, Roe’s San Francisco-based attorneys have not returned numerous phone calls.

In a response given to the court by attorneys for the CSU Trustees on April 29, 2021, the CSU denied every material allegation contained in Roe’s initial complaint. 

The response reads, “Defendant CSU further generally denies that Plaintiff is entitled to declaratory relief, injunctive relief, statutory penalties, compensatory damages, restitution, interest, attorneys’ fees or costs, or any other form of legal or equitable relief whatsoever as they have not suffered any damages because of any act or omission on Defendant CSU’s part.” 

On May 9, 2022, the civil case was transferred from the Los Angeles Superior Court to the Butte County Superior Court because, the “Defendant contends this Court [Los Angeles] is not the proper court for the trial of this action, and the Court to which transfer is sought is the proper Court for trial under California Code of Civil Procedure sections 39Gb and 397(a) and Government Code section 955.2.”

According to a Humboldt State flier from 2017, “Christopher Marks is a native of Chico and obtained a B.A. degree in Mathematics from CSU, Chico in 1999. He subsequently obtained a master’s in Pure Math from CSU, Sacramento, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from UC Santa Cruz in 2009. After postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany, and at the University of Alberta, he was hired as an Assistant Professor at Chico State in 2014.”

Butte County Superior Court will host a case management conference on July 19 in Oroville. 

A case management conference is when attorneys for both parties meet with the assigned judge to determine if or when a case should go to trial.

For more information about this case, you can find it through case information here.

Correction: This article has been updated to correct inadvertent errors. These corrections were: Andrew Staples, public relations manager for Chico State’s University Communications, mentions that Title IX is unaware of any allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment against Marks independent of those alleged by Roe, we have changed the word “is” to “was”.

According to Staples, “The Title IX office did claim to uncover during their investigation that Marks had allegedly been involved in two separate sexual relationships with students, neither of the other students made claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.” Rather the quote being “The Title IX office discovered during their investigation that Marks had allegedly been involved in two separate sexual relationships with students, neither of the other students made claims of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and thus those issues were beyond the scope of the investigation.”

Milca Elvira Chacon and Alejandro Mejia Mejia can be reached at [email protected] or @MeijaMeijaAlex on Twitter.

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About the Contributors
Alejandro Mejia Mejia, Former Editor-in-Chief
Alejandro Mejia Mejia was born in Redding, California where he lived his entire life until he went to school at California State University, Chico [Chico State]. He is a transfer student from Shasta College where he obtained two A.A. University Studies degrees in Language Arts and Social Studies. In the Fall 2023 semester, he was the Editor-in-Chief for The Orion. He was also a sports reporter and sports editor for the news organization. He majored in Journalism within the News option and minored in Marketing. He likes watching Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Red Sox games in his spare time.
Milca Elvira Chacon is a journalism major with a minor in Broadcasting. She was a contributor for The Orion last semester, but is now officially working for the student-led newspaper. She hopes to strengthen her writing skills and contribute to stories that will positively impact the community. Outside of journalism, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and working out.

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    Molly Myers // Jul 20, 2023 at 5:47 am

    Great work on this article. 🙌🏻

    Reply