Howard University is facing one of what could become several lawsuits stemming from a recent financial aid scandal. Tyrone Hankerson Jr., who was accused in a blog post of embezzling tens of thousands of dollars meant for other students, plans to file a $10 million lawsuit against the historically black college for leaking his financial records.
The money mismanagement came to light last month in a since-deleted blog post on the website Medium, that claimed Hankerson embezzled more than $400,000 while working in the financial aid office. Photos of Hankerson wearing expensive clothing and traveling the world went viral hours after the post was published.
Howard University president Wayne Frederick later admitted that six employees were fired for “gross misconduct and neglect of duties.”
Frederick said that he was informed “that there may have been some misappropriation of University-provided financial aid funds,” in 2016. An internal investigation was immediately launched, along with an outside audit, to help determine the “magnitude” of misappropriation. The investigation, which was completed last May, found that between 2007 and 2016, grants were given to “some university employees” whose tuition had already been waved. “As a result, some individuals received inappropriate refunds,” Frederick said.
Howard students responded to the misconduct by staging a “sit-in” at the school’s administration building last week where they called for Frederick’s resignation, among other demands.
Hankerson, however, has repeatedly proclaimed innocence. In an interview with CBS News earlier this week, Hankerson said that he has become a victim of “bullying and harassment” as a result of the blog post. He also clarified that he was not among the six employees fired, but left his job to finish law school.
Hankerson went on to detail how his life has been “turned completely upside down” by the scandal. “I’ve tried to manage by pulling myself away – I have a great support system of friends making sure I’m OK at the law school,” he said. “We’re just trying to get through it as best as possible. But the biggest thing is safety concerns because people are tweeting and posting while I’m in class. I would hate for somebody to target me and for anything to happen to any of my classmates.”