Sex lecturer tells of girl's crush

Eamonn Duff and John Kidman

June 13, 2004
The Sun-Herald


A senior lecturer has quit his post following anonymous sex-for-grades claims at a Sydney university.

Sexuality and Asian gender studies teacher Paul Mathews broke his silence to tell The Sun-Herald he had no option but to resign from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) Bankstown Campus after an anonymous student claimed he wrote essays, upgraded marks and provided cash in return for sexual favours.

In an exclusive interview from his Canberra home, Dr Mathews was adamant that, despite being dogged by the scandal, he had not had sex with his students.

But he agreed his credibility had been severely damaged.

"People known to me through work have backed off, friends are starting to doubt me and my church congregation has yet to even find out," he said.

"Then there is the ongoing suspicion from my wife who thinks there might be some truth to all of this."

In March, UWS hierarchy received an email from an anonymous Asian student who claimed she and four others had engaged in sexual relations with Dr Mathews in return for academic favours.

Dr Mathews was teaching within the university's School of Humanities. Topics covered in his classes included Asian perceptions of sexuality, gender relations and reproduction.

The complaint sparked an internal investigation, which led to the immediate suspension of Dr Mathews. On Friday, UWS released a statement, which read in part: "The university made a concerted effort to contact students to assist with its inquiries . . . no complainant came forward and the university does not have evidence to substantiate the allegations."

Dr Mathews said he quit because life would have been made impossible for him. "The university would have cut my funding and increased my workload. I would also have been subjected to snide remarks from colleagues for the rest of my working life," he said.

'My student fell for me, and it's happened before' - Former UWS senior lecturer, Paul Mathews.

Dr Mathews hit back with his own claims that, through extra-curricular activities, an 18-year-old woman developed a deep infatuation with him.

"I had at my disposal, research funding from two associations.

"I was conducting research for these groups, I needed extra pairs of hands so I enlisted the 18-year-old and some of her friends, who were also my students. I felt it would be good experience for them. The students received between $12 and $20 an hour depending on the skill levels required. Most of the work, such as proofreading and formatting, was done from their homes.

"If you are asking whether I had sexual relations with the girl or any of her friends, the answer is no.

"Neither did I write their essays, hand out grades or do any favours.

"The girl had an infatuation and she turned on me."

Dr Mathews said it was not the first time a student had developed an unhealthy infatuation, adding: "This has happened to me several times now.

"I also know lecturers who have developed infatuations with students."

When asked if he had, Dr Mathews replied: "No."

When asked whether he should have applied additional caution with female students because of the sexually sensitive subject matter, he disagreed.

"Just because the word sex comes into play, it doesn't necessarily mean it's highly sensitive," he said. "When we're talking about sex within this area, we're talking more about power. Most people would not enrol in a subject called power and gender in Asia. But if you call it sex and gender in Asia, it's a different story. That's what it's about."

The Sun-Herald was unable to locate the woman who wrote the email on behalf of herself and four other students. divorce support