Penn State fencing assistant fired over groping allegation

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A woman says she told Penn State University’s head fencing coach that one of his assistants had groped her on a plane, but the coach failed to report her accusation to the school as required.

Jennifer Oldham, a North Carolina fencing coach, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she was aboard a December 2017 flight with a group of fencing coaches returning from a competition when Penn State assistant George “Gia” Abashidze repeatedly asked her for sex, touched her knee, arm and upper leg, then grabbed her crotch.

Oldham said she told head coach Wes Glon what happened. Glon had Abashidze apologize to Oldham, but informed her he did not report the incident to Penn State, the newspaper reported. “No one will believe you,” Oldham said he told her.

Oldham’s husband, Jeff Kallio, who runs the Mid-South Fencers’ Club in Durham, North Carolina, with her, eventually reported his wife’s accusation and Glon’s alleged inaction to Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. Penn State launched an investigation and fired Abashidze on March 4.

Penn State confirmed it also investigated Glon’s conduct, but declined to say whether he faced any discipline over his alleged failure to report. Under Penn State policy, coaches are required to report sexual harassment complaints.