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Nursing Student Alleges Groping, Assault

There's being a teacher's pet and then there's being petted by your teacher. The latter is the subject of a lawsuit filed in Richmond Circuit Court Dec. 13.

Erin Tilts, a nursing student at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, charges that her teacher on repeated occasions groped her and rubbed her in a sexual manner in view of other students and as part of required course work for her grade.

The suit alleges that Tilts suffered from assault and battery, sexual harassment and emotional distress at the hands of instructor Matthew Hoffman. Administrators at J. Sargeant Reynolds, the college itself, and the state's community college program are named defendants in the suit, as well.

The suit accuses two college administrators of being complacent after learning of complaints from Tilts and other students in her class of Hoffman's alleged sexually inappropriate behavior in his capacity as a nurse at Henrico Doctors' Hospital.

Style Weekly was unable to reach Hoffman for comment. A spokeswoman at Henrico Doctors' Hospital says there are no records at any of its four campuses of Hoffman's employment there.

Malcolm Holmes, a spokesman for J. Sargeant Reynolds, says he cannot comment on the lawsuit because it is ongoing, but indicates Hoffman is no longer an instructor. "He hasn't worked here this academic year," Holmes says, declining to elaborate on the terms of Hoffman's departure. "He was an adjunct nursing instructor, and it's a personnel matter."

Among allegations in her suit, Tilts says Hoffman instructed her to come to a demonstration bed at the front of the classroom where he told her "to take off her shirt and bra." The suit says that while Tilts was clad only in a hospital gown, "Mr. Hoffman proceeded to take out a bottle of massage oil and massage Ms. Tilts' back for about twenty minutes."

On another occasion, the suit says, Hoffman picked Tilts as a demonstration aide. When she voiced her discomfort, and a male student tried to volunteer in her stead, the suit alleges, "Mr. Hoffman insisted that Ms. Tilts be the model." In that instance, Hoffman is accused of repeatedly feeling "her left buttock in an up-and-down groping manner."

Tilts also claims Hoffman regularly made derogatory comments about women and told explicit stories, "including one about how one of his female patients had an orgasm from the treatment he was giving."

The suit seeks $250,000 and legal fees. Robert J. Jacobs, a lawyer representing Tilts in the suit, did not return calls.S

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