Editorial: University and department response to misconduct allegations has been alarming
UConn music professor Robert Miller has been under investigation for sexual misconduct for over a year now, but the accusations of misconduct go much further back than that. A report released last month stated that officials in the music department, including the former dean, ignored the accusations.
While neither former dean David Woods, nor Miller, have been formally charged with any crime yet, the school's failure to follow up on the allegations is a serious problem in itself. UConn's policy toward these reports of sexual abuse was dismissive, unconcerned and completely unacceptable.
Professor Miller's conduct had given cause for concern for nearly a decade, and numerous departments and officials failed to follow up. The oldest allegations against Miller go back to the '90s, and the report said that they were "widely known and discussed" by 2003. Some of the accusations against him are alarming and should have elicited immediate attention. The report accuses Miller of conduct including showering naked with students at his health club, making them strip to check them for ticks during camping trips, inviting students to his Connecticut and Vermont homes and giving underage students alcohol.
It's worth noting that the misconduct between Miller and UConn students was consensual. However, it was very inappropriate and multiple parties at UConn failed to properly investigate the claims. The report said allegations of Miller's misconduct were raised during a meeting in 2007 at which members of the School of Fine Arts, the human resources department and the UConn police department were present. None of the officials present ever followed up on the allegations.
The UConn police department has been aware of the allegations for close to seven years, but before February 2013, when a criminal investigation into Miller's activities was opened, the only action the police department took was to run a background check on Miller.
By far one of the most serious and disturbing allegations is that Miller molested children at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a summer camp for seriously ill children, where he worked in the 1990s. What's equally disturbing is that those allegations were made known to the music department through an anonymous letter in 2011, but the letter was hidden by Woods and the music school dean that year, Catherine Jarjisian. No one else saw the letter for more than a year. Both professor Miller and former dean Woods are still UConn employees receiving $140,000 and $237,000 a year respectively.
The report shows that UConn failed to respond for more than a decade to make the campus safer for students. UConn needs to make sure there is a full investigation and everyone involved is properly disciplined. The school's actions were not only disgraceful but dangerous.
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