A former ITT Tech recruiter in Arizona is suing the defunct for-profit school for ignoring her complaints about a student with a violent criminal past before he shot her on campus.
What’s more, Kristen Trease claims ITT Tech fired her the day she returned to work after nearly being killed.
ITT announced this month that it would be shutting down all campuses nationwide in the midst of a federal crackdown on the for-profit school. It has been under investigation for years for predatory lending and other shady practices. Among other sanctions, the U.S. Department of Education barred it from enrolling new students who use federal aid. The shutdown happened so quickly that some Nebraska students showed up to a graduation ceremony—only to find out that it had been canceled.
Trease began working for ITT Tech in July 2010, and interviewed students and helped them enroll as part of her job.
Carlos Webb, who was on parole for previous offenses including kidnapping, burglary, and rape in nearby New Mexico, showed up to enroll at ITT about a year after Trease began working there. She was assigned to be his enrollment representative.
“Mr. Webb consistently asked [Trease] out on dates and interrupted her meetings with other students in order to attempt to engage her in personal discussions,” the complaint states.
When she complained about his advances and expressed concern about his criminal history, Trease said the school did nothing to protect her. The lawsuit claims ITT prioritized getting paid over Trease’s safety.
But Webb was soon back in prison after he unlawfully removed his ankle monitor at the end of the fall semester.
When he got out, ITT took him back, despite Trease’s protests. She was tasked with re-enrolling him and getting him an ID badge.
“When [Trease] was not able to obtain an identification badge for Mr. Webb as quickly as Mr. Webb demanded, he confronted her, screamed at her, and told her that when she obtained his badge, she needed to ‘keep it and rub it all over her chest,’” the complaint states.
She complained, but says ITT did not investigate her allegations. Instead, Trease claims, she was disciplined that February in retaliation for reporting harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supported her claims, according to documents filed in court.
Webb remained enrolled and on April 24, 2012, he shot Trease.
Webb’s initial target was an ex-girlfriend, police said. But she refused to go outside the ITT campus with him after he flashed his weapon. Instead, Webb confronted Trease and forced her to her car.
She tried to run, but he shot her in the chest.
“One of our representatives, she got shot by a student. She’s right now with all of us,” one person said on a 911 call from the scene.
In the new lawsuit filed against ITT, Trease says she was also sexually assaulted by Webb, whose criminal record included sex offenses, during that incident. He fled the scene.
Webb surrendered at the house of a relative the next morning, but police found signs he hadn't planned to go peacefully.
The bullet had gone straight through Trease’s chest. It took her several months to recover, and she went back to work on Oct. 25, 2012.
ITT fired her the same day for “issues related to your performance,” according to a separation memo attached to the lawsuit.
She filed a complaint with the EEOC, which found she was discriminated against on the basis of her disability.
Webb was convicted and sentenced for attempted second degree murder, kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated assault. In March, an appellate court affirmed his convictions on all counts.
But Trease’s complaints about her workplace go far beyond the felonious student. She alleges that she and female co-workers complained about sexual harassment by an employee but that their superiors violated the company’s confidential reporting promises and identified the women through an audio recording.
ITT Tech did not respond to a request for comment.