A gay professor has claimed he was sacked for sexual harassment over a ‘misunderstanding’ – because he told a student that he would “ride them hard”.

Tenured English professor Rob Latham of the University of California-Riverside has spoken out against allegations made by a former student.

According to Academe, he claims that “political pressures and rank homophobia deformed the disciplinary process” in the case, because both he and the complainant were men.

Latham recalled: “The Provost’s Office submitted, as evidence of my alleged verbal harassment of the male complainant, the following communication: ‘You’re an intellectual thoroughbred, kiddo, and I’ve mentored very few of those in my career. I have to resist the impulse to ride you too hard too soon. If you’ll forgive the equine metaphor’.

“Suffice to say it is transparently obvious that, if a heterosexual man had made the exact same statement, no lewd implication would ever have been inferred.

“The rhetoric of UCR’s charging documents and administration counsel’s briefs was rife with homophobic language and assumptions, including the myth that gay men are always ‘on the make’, unable to relate to other males in any way except sexually.”

He also denies other allegations made against him, including “allegedly distributed drugs to graduate students on an evening when I was demonstrably not present”, as well as allegations of an “unwelcome advance towards a third party despite substantial exculpatory evidence, including that student’s own contemporaneous statements.”

He added: “I can’t believe that this case, which began with false charges of sexual harassment brought by a disgruntled graduate student and his girlfriend, has been allowed to reach the Board of Regents. It should have been settled through informal mediation long ago.”

However, a statement from the English department said: “We, the faculty of the English Department at the University of California, Riverside would like to respond to Dr Latham’s public statement.

“We wish to go on record in support of the decision of the University of California Board of Regents, which Dr Latham references in emails to us.”

The statement continued: “We stand with our graduate students, and those who came forward, filed complaints and supported each other through this difficult process.

“We are committed to moving forward with our students, and to working together to repair any and all harm done to our community and to our campus.”