David Barnett
David Barnett (University of Colorado)

As University of Colorado students and instructors return to the classroom Monday, embattled associate philosophy professor David Barnett will not be among them.

The university is moving to fire Barnett, 44, after paying a graduate student more than $800,000 to settle claims he retaliated against her after she reported she was sexually assaulted by a fellow graduate student.

Barnett had been scheduled to teach two introductory philosophy courses this semester.

"At professor Barnett's request, he has been given relief from teaching duties, with pay, until he is given a hearing on the allegations against him," Brian Moore, Barnett's attorney, said Wednesday.

CU spokesman Ryan Huff confirmed that Barnett was relieved of his teaching duties this semester after his request was approved by Steven Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Huff said Barnett will continue his research and committee duties within the philosophy department.

Barnett, who receives an annual salary of $77,668, is accused of compiling a 38-page report painting the female graduate student as "sexually promiscuous" and alleging she falsified the report of the sexual assault, according to a notice of intent to sue CU that was filed by the woman last month.

The university paid the student $825,000 to settle her retaliation claim.

Moore said Barnett's report pointed to inconsistencies in the findings of the Office of Discrimination and Harassment, the campus body that investigated the alleged sexual assault.

"Professor Barnett unequivocally denies that he, at any time, in his written complaint or in conversation, described the alleged victim as 'sexually promiscuous,' or any other words to that effect," Moore said. "Professor Barnett did not inquire into the alleged victim's sexual history, and made no generalizations about the alleged victim's character or past behavior."

Chancellor Phil DiStefano this summer initiated termination proceedings against Barnett, a tenured professor who has taught on the Boulder campus since 2005.

Barnett has appealed DiStefano's decision, and a panel of faculty members from across CU's four campuses is set to hear his case sometime this fall. That panel's recommendation is not binding.

From there, President Bruce Benson will recommend dismissal or that the case be closed. If Benson recommends dismissal, the Board of Regents will take a public vote to decide Barnett's fate.

Because of confidentiality around personnel matters, the only public action throughout the dismissal process is the regents' final vote.

If fired, Barnett would be the fourth tenured professor dismissed in CU's 138-year history.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.