Student: Prof asked me to watch porn with him

May 21, 2010 6:59:11 AM PDT
An HCC professor was fired for what a student says he said to her. The student says all she wanted was an education, but her professor offered much more.

Because of what happened in her past, it took a lot of courage for Sylvia Rodriguez, 45, to become a student again. School at Houston Community College was supposed to be her safe place, but a teacher caught on tape apologizing for asking her to look at pornography ruined that for her.

This year after decades away, Rodriguez decided to go back to school.

"It was a very exciting moment for me, a big, big step," Rodriguez said.

So in February, she strapped on her backpack and headed off to Houston Community College's Spring Branch campus.

Her plan was to become a paralegal, not to record an apology from her English teacher, Michael Selph, after he allegedly brought up an inappropriate proposition.

"Will you forgive me for asking you to look at porn with me?" Selph said on the taped conversation.

"It has affected me. It is going to continue to affect me," Rodriguez said.

Selph, 40, also is a musician from the band Cut and Shoot, according to a website. Rodriguez says he first just said inappropriate things in front of the entire class.

"He literally looked straight at me and said, 'Why do Hispanic women that come out on TV have everything hanging out?'" Rodriguez said.

But then one day after class, she says it got worse.

"He had his cell phone. He had it in his hand and then he was like, 'Look, come here; you wanna see some porn with me? Come on, let's look at porn,'" Rodriguez said.

To anyone else it, it may have been just an unseemly offer declined.

"I'm like, 'No, no I don't think so,'" Rodriguez said.

But to Rodriguez, it was big.

"It opened a lot of doors I had already closed; it did," she said.

Rodriguez is a rape victim who also escaped an abusive husband five years ago. Eyewitness News doesn't usually identify rape victims, but she insisted.

"I don't want to be a victim anymore. I'm a survivor," Rodriguez said.

And with that attitude, she sought proof.

"I put on a big T-shirt and I put on a shirt with a pocket, and I put the recorder there," Rodriguez said.

And she got it.

"He was like, 'I need to tell you something,'" she said.

Here is a portion of the taped conversation:

Selph: Will you forgive me for asking you to look at porn with me? Remember, on Monday after class?
Rodriguez: On Monday?
Selph: On Monday, after class. I wanted to apologize. Remember?
Rodriguez: Apologize for what?
Selph: Remember, for asking you to look at porn with me?
Rodriguez: To look at porn?
Selph: Remember? I wanted to apologize
Rodriguez:: OK

Rodriguez filed a complaint with HCC and turned over the recording. She agreed to transfer to another class, but Selph remained in the same classroom for six weeks despite the evidence.

"They're hearing it out the horse's mouth," Rodriguez said. "If that's not sufficient for you then I don't know what is."

ABC13 went to HCC to find out why Selph wasn't taken out of the classroom immediately.

"He had no prior complaints; he has no criminal record, and we felt that given his background, he was a non-threat to all other students," said Dan Arguijo with HCC.

HCC's chief communication officer was the only person available for an interview, and he's out of town.

"When these incidents happen, they get our full attention, and we will not be tolerate it," Arguijo said.

In the end, HCC confirmed the allegation. Selph was terminated last week, which by the way, coincided with the last day of school.

Rodriguez says it should have come a lot sooner.

"I would not like to have a person like that teaching my child," she said.

She believes HCC failed her. She may not have learned much in English class, but she did learn a more about herself.

"I'm not going to quit. I'm not going to quit," Rodriguez said.

Selph declined to give ABC13 a comment.

HCC says he had worked for them since last October. Now he is not eligible for rehire.

Load Comments