English professor Sabrena Turner-Odom has filed a civil lawsuit against Los Angeles Southwest College and former vice president of student services, Howard Irvin, alleging sexual harassment. Turner-Odom testified in court that Irvin made inappropriate comments about her appearance, stared at her body, and followed her on campus, making explicit remarks. The trial has shed light on Irvin’s troubled past, including his involvement in high-profile cases during his time as a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and his own criminal charges for stalking and making terrorist threats against an ex-girlfriend.
Irvin’s career path to becoming a college leader was unconventional, with his background as a police officer for 13 years. He claimed to have been involved in undercover operations targeting drug deals, prostitution, and bookmaking. However, he faced charges in 1997 for stalking and making terrorist threats against an ex-girlfriend, to which he pleaded guilty. The charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and he received three years of probation.
During the trial, the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest in California, argued that Turner-Odom’s allegations could not be proven. The case has caused turmoil within the struggling community college in South Los Angeles. Turner-Odom, determined to seek justice, has expressed her love for the community and her refusal to let Irvin take that away from her.
The trial has provided a rare and detailed look into the challenges faced by a woman seeking justice against an accused harasser. The case continues as the Los Angeles Community College District fights the allegations of negligence in investigating and preventing the sexual harassment of Turner-Odom, as well as its alleged failure in hiring and supervising Irvin.