Audrius Klimas, the rector of Vilnius Academy of Arts, or VDA, says that Professor Jonas Gasiūnas has been suspended for two weeks following reports that he allegedly sexually abused female students.
Jonas Gasiūnas
© DELFI montažas

Updates throughout.

Gasiūnas, a prominent painter and Lithuanian National Culture and Arts Prize laureate, dismisses the allegations and links them to a conflict situation that arose after Jonas Vaitiekūnas became the new head of VDA's Painting Department.

"My opinion is negative. That person has been suspended from work with students for two weeks. This matter is being referred to the Senate's Ethics Committee. The Senate is holding a meeting in two weeks' time and they will also voice their opinion," Klimas told BNS on Wednesday.

The rector said that there had been rumours about Gasiūnas' alleged sexual misconduct toward female students, but he had received no written complaints so far.

"There were no specific written complaints. Oral complaints are a signal, but perhaps not yet a reason to respond. There was no specific complaint. There was some talk, some rumours, some opinions and so on," he said.

VDA said in a statement that it would pay full attention to "objective investigation of this case and prevention of similar situations".

It also called on lecturers and former and current students not to be indifferent and to inform the management and the Senate's Ethics Committee of "any unethical behaviour".

Two former VDA students have anonymously accused Gasiūnas, 63, of sexual abuse.

One of the young women said in her blog that she had sexual intercourse with Gasiūnas while a student at the academy.

She said that many people and institutions had tolerated Gasiūnas' misconduct. According to the female, who entered the academy in 2008, she decided to emigrate after graduation, as potential contacts she had on the art market were dependent on the professor.

The other woman said anonymously that she started to have a sexual relationship with her lecturer when she was an 18-year-old freshman. She claims that the first time was when Gasiūnas took advantage of her being drunk and that later she continued the relationship as she felt pressure from him and feared to lose his backing during her studies. The woman says that she began to abuse alcohol because of this relationship and later underwent medical treatment

Gasiūnas dismisses the allegations, saying that they surfaced after he turned to the Senate's Ethics Commission over Vaitiekūnas.

The professor told the Delfi.lt news website that the new head had given jobs to his brother and his life partner at the department and that destructive, conservative decisions were being made at the department.

BNS
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