EXCLUSIVE: U92 students speak out about alleged harassment

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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - In an exclusive interview with 5 News, four U92 students and former students spoke out about their claims of harassment against their general manager, who they say exhibited a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior.

Melanie Smith, Amanda Doss, Jackson Montgomery, and Amanda Hurley agreed to sit down for an interview Friday, one day after upwards of 50 WVU students decided to go on strike.

The students claim the station's general manager and a paid university employee, Matthew Fouty, has manipulated and engaged inappropriately with his subordinates.

Fouty has not responded to 5 News' requests for comment.

Melanie Smith, a senior and U92's news director, says she has been the target of Fouty's crude jokes and unwanted comments.

"I shake," she said. "I'm terrified to even walk in there."

Smith pointed to several examples of on-air conversations, when she felt that he crossed a line.

In one instance, from a show on August 31, 2016, Fouty said Smith was "built like a potato."

That same show, he shared that he knows "girls that can unhinge their jaws like snakes."

The co-hosts, one of whom was Smith, laughed uncomfortably and pivoted to another subject.

Other students vividly remember Fouty making crass comments to Smith and others during shows.

"Jokes about Mel's body, about her sex life," Jackson Montgomery, a member of U92's music department, recounted.

When Smith confronted Fouty about this, she says he told her "it was all an act."

The students also described Fouty as overbearing, often not letting the students make decisions on their own.

"[There was] this hold on us, as if we weren't able to do anything without his consent," Smith claimed.

Smith claims Fouty's overbearing nature extended beyond the walls of the station.

Several tweets and text messages show that Fouty initiated conversations over social media, despite students' repeated requests for him to stop.

Smith says she grew so uncomfortable that she removed him from the station GroupMe.

In a message from August, Fouty promised Smith he will only contact her and the news department "through e-mail."

In June, several students, including Montgomery, approached Adell Crowe, the director of student media and supervisor of U92, about the behavior.

They say she told them a Title IX complaint would be filed on their behalf.

An e-mail obtained by 5 News shows that in September, Cindy Scott, a senior investigator with Title IX, told Smith "I have worked with Adell Crowe to implement interim measures to ensure that you do not need to have direct contact with him while you are working in your position at U92."

In another e-mail, dated October 16, Scott tells Amanda Doss that she had informed Fouty of the complaint that day.

When Doss asked why Fouty was "just now being informed about the complaint," Scott explained that she had to wait until all of the evidence was collected and that she was leaving the investigation open.

That e-mail was forward to student employees at U92.

The students 5 News met with say they haven't heard anything about the status of the investigation since October.

Adell Crowe declined to comment on the matter.

When contacted, Corey Farris, WVU's Dean of Students, and a Title IX representative both said they could not confirm or deny if an investigation was active, citing school policy.

The four students say that while action was taken in September to curtail Fouty's authority, they were informed last week that his power would be reinstated.

That move prompted the strike.

"We did everything legally, we did everything by the protocol, by the book, and nothing has happened," said a frustrated Amanda Doss.

Doss stepped down as the station's program director last week.

When asked about the recent decision concerning Fouty's position, Farris told 5 News that it would be taken off the table. He added that his door is always open and that the school takes the students' concerns seriously, but stopped short of saying any personnel changes would be made.