The following article contains mentions of sexual misconduct.
Just seconds after Carlos Apostle entered a Boston University classroom, she thought he was unfit for an academic setting.
In a criminal law course one year after becoming a licensed lawyer in Massachusetts, Apostle began one of the first classes teaching how to avoid tickets from police and boasting about his work as a defense attorney, according to a civil complaint filed November 2020. Eight months later, Apostle allegedly sexually harassed, assaulted and battered a 21-year-old female undergraduate.
After graduating, the student filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court against Trustees of Boston University on counts of breach of contract, negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention, and failure to fulfill Massachusetts General Law on the right to freedom from sexual harassment. BU filed to dismiss all claims against them, but the latter two motions were struck down by a judge.
The student also filed suit against Apostle on counts of negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery and assault.
A BU Title IX investigation concluded in November 2019 favoring her and was forwarded to the dean of Metropolitan College, where the course was taught. To the student’s knowledge and according to the complaint, the school never took disciplinary action against anyone.
Apostle denied nearly all of the plaintiff’s claims and BU denied they never disciplined him, though they did admit to not prohibiting contact between them.
Apostle’s current relationship with BU remains unclear. The student said she heard her professor for the course, Mark Miliotis, refer to Apostle as his “assistant.” BU disputed this title, calling him a “volunteer.”
The litigation is currently in discovery, a stage where all parties exchange evidence surrounding the events. The student, who filed under the pseudonym Jane Doe, alleges two semester’s worth of sexual misconduct by Apostle both inside and outside the classroom. As far as she knows, Miliotis was informed of the behavior but did not report it, according to the complaint.
In court documents, BU lawyers issued a defense arguing the student’s “own conduct caused or contributed to the accident, injuries, and damages alleged.” They also argued her negligence was greater than BU’s alleged negligence, contributing to her damages.
Until late last month, Miliotis was listed online as part-time faculty of MET College. He did not respond to multiple email requests for comment.
BU spokesperson Colin Riley declined to comment on pending litigation and related topics.
MET College Dean Tanya Zlateva declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Apostle and his attorney Robert Sheketoff both did not respond to multiple email and phone call requests for comment.
On the condition of anonymity, the student agreed to an interview with The Daily Free Press.
The plaintiff knew this would be unlike any other experience she’d had at BU after Apostle allegedly addressed the class alone.
“He just walked in, put his stuff down and just immediately he was very cocky,” the plaintiff said. “Mostly he talked about himself more than he talked about actually teaching us anything.”
Later that Spring, the plaintiff said she discovered Apostle was arrested and charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, impersonating a police officer and assault and battery on a senior, arrest records show. Local news covered him posing as law enforcement to enter the elderly woman’s home.
During that class, Apostle frequently asked the plaintiff questions and appeared to look at her chest rather than her face, according to court documents. At one point, he allegedly sat on her desk.
Struck by his behavior, she said in an interview that she called a friend after class and said, “‘Oh my God, one of my professors wants to sleep with me.’”
The plaintiff said she remembers instances in which Apostle brought papers Miliotis had forgotten. Another time, she said he introduced a guest lecturer during a class Miliotis was not present for.
“It was clear that there was some sort of professional relationship between them outside of the school world,” the plaintiff said. “It seemed that Mr. Miliotis was kind of a mentor, almost, to Carlos, and Carlos was his assistant.”
At a “mandatory networking event” for part two of the course the following Spring, the plaintiff attended with two other students, according to court documents. The complaint alleges Apostle met them there and stared at their chests as he talked.
According to the complaint, when she went to the restroom he followed her and said, “There’s a private after party; just you and me.”
When the event finished, she and her two friends left the restroom. Apostle was waiting for them and insisted on spending the evening with them, according to the complaint. While walking to a bar, he allegedly grabbed her rear.
At the bar, he allegedly hugged the plaintiff, attempted to massage her shoulders, boasted that he dealt drugs and encouraged her to take a shot of alcohol with him, to which she refused, according to the complaint.
The plaintiff alleged Apostle wanted to show his place of work, which “excited” her friend. There, he reached under the plaintiff’s skirt to massage her rear, according to the complaint. The complaint states they left after 2 a.m., and had little option but to accept a ride home from him. Apostle dropped off her friend first, who was “heavily intoxicated” in the backseat.
He repeatedly reached for the plaintiff’s legs on the drive to her apartment, though she sat as far away as possible, according to the complaint. When they arrived, Apostle allegedly told her he had wanted to “f—” her since the first day of class, the complaint stated. He referred to her body and chest and said, “he just had to know.”
The plaintiff alleges Apostle repeatedly begged her to have sex. He tried to grab her body and asked to see her breasts, the complaint states. He grabbed her face and tried to kiss her, until she pushed him away and reminded him her boyfriend was waiting for her. Apostle allegedly continued to beg for sex.
The plaintiff planned how to exit the car, and, after another of Apostle’s advances, yelled, “I’m not going to sleep with you, leave me alone,” according to the complaint. She claims she ran up the stairs of her building and that Apostle followed, asking to come upstairs. He would not leave, the complaint alleges, and she feared he would come inside and trap her.
In exchange for leaving, the plaintiff gave Apostle her phone number, which she could later block, according to the complaint. She entered her apartment, hyperventilated and spent the night crying.
Title IX Investigation
After receiving her grade in the course, the plaintiff’s father told Miliotis about Apostle’s behavior, according to the complaint. To her knowledge, Miliotis did not report Apostle to BU. Miliotis ignored all her messages when she contacted him separately, the plaintiff said, and did not attempt to reach her.
The plaintiff said she then disclosed Apostle’s behavior to another professor, who reported it to BU’s Title IX Office. Title IX investigators told her they had trouble contacting Miliotis, she said, and the complaint alleges he was uncooperative, going weeks without responding to inquiries.
BU denied Miliotis was uncooperative with investigators, but admitted to him “going weeks without responding to inquiries.”
The outcome of the seven month investigation concluded in her favor. A report from the Title IX office was forwarded to the dean of MET. Discipline would be determined from there, but to her knowledge, BU never made moves against anyone.
“I never heard anything else from the Title IX Office after they sent me that report,” the plaintiff said. “It is my knowledge that they never did anything.”
The plaintiff said she felt forgotten about, recalling long periods of time where she received no contact from any University resource and fearing Apostle was still on campus the remainder of her time at BU. She described the Title IX investigation as “extremely indifferent,” offering her minimal protection.
“During the investigation, I remember thinking that I almost wished that I didn’t say anything, because it really just felt like they didn’t care,” the plaintiff said. “A university should care about their students and what happens to them.”
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against BU and Apostle in November 2020. Discovery and depositions are scheduled to end by mid-March 2022, and key facts, including Apostle’s official title, must still be settled. Sara Burns, the plaintiff’s attorney, predicted this will be cleared up.
BU’s lawyers unsuccessfully moved to dismiss a claim of failure to secure freedom from sexual harassment and negligence as defined in state general law c. 214 § 1C, and another of negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention. A motion dismissing a third claim for breach of contract was allowed.
The University issued eight affirmative defenses, most of which place greater onus on the plaintiff.
“When it comes to affirmative defenses in response to complaints, defendants put in the kitchen sink,” Burns said in an interview. “Especially at this stage, we’re not terribly worried about them. We’re looking to what does the evidence show.”
Press inquiries to BU attorneys were referred to Riley, who declined to comment on pending litigation.
“Depending on how this case plays out, it could mean that a university suddenly needs to be much more careful about who they allow into their classroom,” Burns said. “They say they couldn’t have known. We say they did know, or they should’ve known.”
In hindsight, the plaintiff said she still would have reported the alleged assault for BU to be aware of the conduct.
“I think that it’s extremely important that these things get reported even if the University doesn’t necessarily handle it the way that it should be,” the plaintiff said. “I would understand why other people wouldn’t want to report it if they had heard the way that it was handled.”
To students intending on reporting misconduct to the Title IX Office, the plaintiff said prepare for a long, cold process, and try to find support from outside the Title IX Office. For her, talking to friends and family helped.
“As far as I remember, they didn’t give me any other resources,” the plaintiff said. “They didn’t tell me about any other support services or what the University was going to do while the investigation was going on.”
BU Title IX officers did not respond to multiple email and phone call requests for comment.
BU offers a confidential, free-of-charge resource for students who have experienced any instance of sexual misconduct called Sexual Assault Response and Prevention. Counselors aid students in filing a report, among other actions, according to its website.
The plaintiff claims $275,000 in medical expenses, according to court filings. Attached exhibits show her diagnosis with panic disorder, general anxiety disorder and depressive disorder.
“Something that I really struggled with, and I still struggle with, is that I’m terrified of male professors,” the plaintiff said. “I still have not been able to go to my male professors’ office hours by myself.”
The plaintiff said she came forward because the issue of sexual misconduct is often minimized, worsening the problem itself.
“Sexual assault and sexual harassment has kind of been swept under the rug,” the plaintiff said. “The more that stuff like this gets talked about and reported and people are held accountable for their actions, then the less scared other people will be to talk about their own experiences.”
Until there are improvements in the U.S. Department of Education and until students and parents intensify pressure, Burns said she does not expect schools to change. This case, she said, could offer a learning opportunity to universities.
“Certainly, any university who isn’t actively working hard to prevent sexual harassment and assault on their campuses right now needs to open their eyes,” Burns said. “I’ll leave it to BU to say what ways they’ve maybe changed.”