The University of Connecticut said on Thursday that two faculty members are facing dismissal after an outside investigation found that the university for several years responded inadequately to sexual-abuse allegations against one of them, The Courant, a newspaper in Hartford, reported.
In separate letters sent Thursday to Professor Robert Miller and to former Dean David Woods, who is now a professor, Brid Grant, dean of UConn’s School of Fine Arts, said that the university was beginning “to take disciplinary action against you, up to and including termination.”
Grant said this action was “based on the serious findings” in an investigatory report released Wednesday by UConn.
That report, prepared by the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath, showed “strong, credible evidence” that Miller “engaged in serious misconduct before and during the time that he has been a professor at UConn.”
The report also singled out Woods, who served as dean of the School of Fine Arts from 2000 to 2012, for his failure to take any substantial action despite his knowledge of allegations and complaints about Miller’s alleged sexual misconduct with children and inappropriate behavior with UConn students.
A representative of Woods’ attorney, Stephen Bacon of Mansfield, said that Bacon would have no comment on UConn’s action. Miller’s attorney, Bethany Phillips of Butler, Norris & Gold in Hartford, did not respond to a phone call.
Miller, who has worked at UConn since 1982 and has a salary of $140,907, has been on administrative leave since June and is barred from campus, but he has not been charged with any crime.
Woods, who started at UConn in 2000, earns $237,547.
The letters inform Miller and Woods that they have seven days to request a hearing before Grant and notes that they are entitled to be accompanied by a representative from UConn’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
Asked whether the professors could retire with full benefits despite the proceedings, a spokeswoman for UConn referred the call to the attorney general’s office. Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen’s office, said: “It depends on the retirement plan and the individual circumstances. We can’t speculate on any specific situation.”
In her letter to Miller, Grant said that her action was based particularly on the report’s conclusion that there are “three credible allegations of sexual misconduct” involving Miller, as well improper interactions with UConn students.
According to the report, Miller sexually abused sick children at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — a summer camp in Ashford — where he worked in the early 1990s. The report also says he might have engaged in inappropriate conduct with at least one middle school student in 1969, when he was a music teacher at a Virginia public school.
The report also cites Miller for what Drinker Biddle & Reath attorney Scott Coffina said was “wildly inappropriate” behavior with UConn students.
Investigators said they believe that Miller “more likely than not” danced in his underwear in a UConn building with a student; showered naked with students at his health club; provided underage students with alcohol; and invited them to his vacation home in Vermont.
The report concludes that Woods “was the only person who had both knowledge of every allegation” against Miller since at least 2003 and had “the authority to address them. Dean Woods, however, repeatedly failed to address effectively the allegations of misconduct against Professor Miller.”
By 2003, the report says, Woods was aware of “numerous rumors” regarding Miller’s inappropriate conduct and relationships with students as well as his rumored sexual misconduct with campers at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
“Professor Miller was like a ticking time bomb that Dean Woods, rather than disarm it, hoped would be a dud,” Coffina said Wednesday in a presentation to the UConn Board of Trustees.
The report also described the “collective failure” of various UConn employees to address the allegations as they heard about them. Besides Woods, the report singles out Catherine Jarjisian, the former music department head, and the University of Connecticut Police Department for particular criticism.
Thursday’s action did not include any mention of Jarjisian or the police department.
Read more here – http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-uconn-miller-follow-0228-20140227,0,2184484.story