Cal Poly psychology and child development professor Jason Williams was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $221 for using his cell phone to take photos up a colleague’s skirt in May 2018.

Court documents show officials have the right to search through the defendant’s electronic devices and his residence. He was also served a protective order mandating that he cannot be within 50 yards of Cal Poly lecturer Kendra Williams. Jason and Kendra are not related. 

The defendant pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge, according to court documents.

The sentencing was postponed four times since the complaint against Jason was filed. Kendra gave an impact statement in court Monday morning, saying the current Title IX policies and procedures are “not enough.”

When Kendra returned as a lecturer the following academic year after the incident, she was reportedly told by Cal Poly not to speak about the incident.

During times when she would need to appear in court for multiple days throughout the quarter or when she would feel triggered during lectures about sexual relationships, she said she would have to tell her students it was “a personal matter.”

“[Cal Poly was] using Title IX to limit my speech and save face,” Kendra Williams said during her impact statement.

The licensed marriage and family therapist also addressed President Jeffrey Armstrong in her impact statement about the alleged mishandling of her investigation, which she said limited the charges the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney could bring against the perpetrator.

“Cal Poly is aware of Jason Williams’ plea agreement reached today,” University SPokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News. “The university issued a notice of discipline to Mr. Williams on May 8 of this year. He is currently suspended pending outcome of the disciplinary process, and we have no additional details to provide at this time.” 

Lazier declined to answer whether or not Williams is receiving pay while on suspension. He also did not provide any addition information about the disciplinary process when asked. 

According to Transparent California databases, Jason made more than $85,000 in the 2018 academic year. Data for the 2019 academic year is not yet included in the database. 

Kendra said she hopes the defendant loses his position as a tenured Cal Poly professor.

Days before her appearance in court Monday, Kendra said she invited Armstrong to the sentencing via email. Instead, he sent a representative on his behalf.

Kendra said her husband, two children, friends and department staff supported her throughout the course of the Title IX investigation.

The incident

Psychology and child development professor Jason Williams was sentenced to five years probation after looking up another professor’s skirt with his phone. Courtesy | San Luis Obispo County Jail
Psychology and child development professor Jason Williams was sentenced to five years probation after looking up another professor’s skirt with his phone. Courtesy | San Luis Obispo County Jail

The incident reportedly occurred around 10 a.m. May 2, 2018.

Kendra said Jason stood behind her in the department mailroom and initiated small talk with her.

She had her back to him as she checked her mail, when she said she felt something touch the inside of her right leg.

Upon looking down, Kendra said she saw Jason pointing his cell phone up her skirt and taking photos of her body with the flash on.

She said she confronted her colleague after seeing him upskirting her.

“You didn’t expect to have a woman, who you thought of as only an object, turn back into a woman and challenge you,” Kendra said to Jason in court.

She said this incident was not his first attempt, nor was she his only victim. The names of other potential victims that Kendra referred to are unknown.

Kendra said the defendant pretended to tie his shoes at the time of his prior attempt.

After the sexual harassment was reported, Kendra was placed on medical leave and Jason was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail, according to an article from The Tribune. He was released from custody that same day, according to the article.

Kendra said she experienced symptoms of acute stress disorder for weeks following the incident, including feeling startled when her husband would enter the same room as her or being triggered when she would lecture about topics relating to sexual relationships.

“I did have times where I would have to skip through a couple of slides in a lecture and just take some time to breathe to get back in a position where I could keep teaching,” Kendra said in an interview with Mustang News.

Advocating for survivors of sexual assault and harassment

Kendra said she respects sexual assault survivors who choose not to be outspoken about their experiences, but is sharing her story to incite change and inspire other survivors to come forward.

“By not putting my voice and my story and my face out there, that allows [Jason] to stay more protected instead of protecting me,” Kendra said.

The total number of sexual assaults at Cal Poly jumped by 50 percent between the years 2015 and 2017, according to previous Mustang News coverage.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), only 23 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police.

Mustang News reached out to the current Title IX Coordinator for Cal Poly. She was not available for comment.

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