UNR faculty member speaks out on alleged assault by former Costa Rican president

    Carina Black, Executive Director of the Northern Nevada International Center, is seen in this file photo. (photo courtesy: UNR)

    According to the New York Times, former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias Sanchez is being accused of sexual assault by a staff member at the University of Nevada-Reno.

    In an article on Sunday, 52-year-old Dr. Carina Black -- Executive Director of the Northern Nevada International Center -- told the Times that Sanchez tried to "grope and kiss her" in an elevator back in 1998 when he was visiting the UNR campus for a speaking engagement.

    “I pushed him, and I smacked him in the face,” she said.

    The New York Times article also said there have been at least four women who have accused Sanchez of assault.

    University of Nevada-Reno did not provide any comment on the matter.

    Dr. Black issued a statement Tuesday providing details about what she says happened the night of the assault. She says Arias made advances often throughout that day in 1998, which she declined, and that his advances culminated in the elevator encounter described in the original report in the New York Times.

    On April 6, 1998, I was part of a team who had invited Costa Rican Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias to Reno for a talk at the University of Nevada, Reno, where I am employed.
    Throughout the day, Mr. Arias became increasingly friendly with me, often reaching for my hand and inviting me to Costa Rica. I explained that I was married with two children and avoided his advances.
    After the main talk at the University, two other community members, Oscar Arias and I went to have a drink at one of the downtown casinos. After this, I guided Mr. Arias back to his hotel, and when we entered the elevator, he reached around me, pinning me against the elevator wall, and attempted to kiss me. I instinctively slapped him in the face and pushed him away. As soon as the elevator door opened, I left and went home.
    When I heard about the nuclear physicist’s story last Tuesday, I knew almost immediately that I had to support her in her efforts to make the truth known. As a leader in my organization and a mother of five children, I am dismayed that women continue to face structural barriers to feeling safe and secure in their places of work as well as in their private life.
    Our complicity by keeping quiet is not going to help make the change we need in order to keep the next generation of women more secure and confident that they can go about their daily lives without fear of being assaulted.
    I am adding my voice to what I am certain is rising number of women against Mr. Arias and against sexual violence in general. I especially applaud the women speaking out in their home country, as Oscar Arias is a powerful figure in Costa Rica and the Latin America. I believe strongly that this moment represents an opportunity for women to begin to participate in private and public spheres with the knowledge that they can and will speak out.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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