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College district places lab tech accused of sex with students on paid leave

Posted at 5:00 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 10:04:59-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Community College District confirmed reports Thursday that it placed a City College lab technician on paid administrative leave while the district reviews accusations he had sex with students and kept sex tapes on his work computer while working at Southwestern College.

The district hired John Douglas Tolli as an instructional lab technician June 1, 2018 and he has remained with the school continuously since then. District spokesman Jack Beresford said the district couldn't comment further on individual employees' employment status.

"The safety of our students and employees is the district's highest priority,'' Beresford said in a statement. "In terms of onboarding new employees, all prospective job candidates are given a thorough background check before they are hired.''

Prior to joining City College, Tolli was a biology professor at Southwestern College. A report by Voice of San Diego found that during the investigation of a Title IX complaint about Tolli in 2017, investigators found he had dozens of nude photos of himself and other students, as well as video on his work computer of him having sex with a student.

The private investigative firm hired by Southwestern College found 12 allegations of misconduct against Tolli involving two students. However, the college allowed him to resign the same month that he was hired at City College and, as part of a separation agreement between the two parties, the college would avoid disclosing the investigation to future employers.

Beresford said the school's background-check process will show existing criminal records but is limited regarding incidents at a prospective employee's past places of employment, showing only the dates during which they were employed and their job title.

"The district ... takes very seriously its responsibilities under Title IX,'' Beresford said. "All Title IX complaints are followed up on immediately and we encourage anyone who feels they have been the subject to harassment or any other form of abuse, to come forward confidentially and with the full protection of the law.''