Former LACCD professor wins lawsuit

By Brenda De La Cruz

A former Los Angeles Southwest College English professor has been awarded $10 million in a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District and Howard Irvin, former Vice President of Student Services at LASC. 

Dr. Sabrena Odom was a tenured professor at Los Angeles Southwest College, as well as the Director of Student Services. She also served as the secretary for the Academic Senate. 

According to court records found online, in October 2018 Odom filed seven alleged causes of action against LACCD and Irvin. The causes of action filed included sexual harrasment, emotional distress and negligent hiring, among other claims. 

The negligent hiring claim was filed after LACCD hired Irvin despite his history of discipline for sexual assault. 

Irvin was previously employed as a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department and had restraining orders placed on him by two female officers 25 years ago.

Irvin, in 1997, had been accused of over 15 alleged attacks and misconduct. 

These attacks included fracturing a detective’s neck and one case where he placed the barrel of his gun against another one of his victims. Irvin also has a history of stalking. 

Despite his record of multiple attacks on women, LACCD still hired Irvin and placed him near not only other staff members, but also young students whom he would have power and influence over. 

According to court records, Irvin made ongoing unwelcomed sexual advances at Odom, even after Odom rejected these advances. 

When she reported it to the chancellor, nothing was done. However, Irvin used his title and power over Odom to retaliate by cutting her program; still nothing was done. 

Odom filed suit against both LACCD and Irvin. She was represented by Maryann Gallagher and her two female colleagues Viridiana Acevesand and Jamie E. Wright. 

The all-female legal team obtained a victory for Odom. The jury awarded her $8.5 million from the LACCD and $1.5 million from Howard Irvin this past fall. 

Irvin was employed by the LACCD at LASC during the trial. However, the school website currently shows Dr. Jamail Carter as acting Vice President of Student Services. 

Odom believes there may be more victims of Irvin who have not come forward.

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