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Sexual Abuse Allegations
Thu February 27, 2014
Report on UConn Professor Shows Misconduct, Delayed Action
According to a report from an independent law firm, University of Connecticut officials knew of sexual abuse allegations against a music professor for a decade before taking action.
Scott Coffina, a former White House counsel and assistant U.S. attorney, presented his findings Wednesday to UConn's Board of Trustees. His investigation found Robert Miller of Mansfield engaged in misconduct, including parties involving alcohol with students at his house in Vermont.
From Diane Orson's report:
"The report by Special Counsel finds credible evidence that UConn music professor Robert Miller engaged in serious misconduct with minors, including molesting children 20 years ago at the Hole in the Wall Gang camp. He’s also believed to have provided alcohol to underage university students, to have taken students on trips to a Vermont cabin, and to have had inappropriate contact with several UConn students. More than 50 witnesses were interviewed for the report, though Miller himself declined to speak with investigators. He has been on leave from UConn since last summer, and barred from campus."
The investigation also found that some school officials knew that Miller had been accused of abusing children. The report states that after hearing of specific concerns, "Dean [David] Woods did not raise the prior allegations, involve UCPD, or, contrary to the advice of counsel, take steps to investigate and limit Professor Miller's access to minors on campus or to potentially vulnerable undergraduate students."\
More from Orson's report:
"The report finds that rumors about Professor Miller’s inappropriate conduct were widely known within the School of Music since at least 2003, but UConn officials failed to ensure that minors on campus and university students were safe. After a letter written in 2011 about Miller was brought to the attention of school officials last year, investigators say the university responded vigorously and appropriately, ordering a Title IX investigation and independent institutional review."
None of the key university officials cited in the report currently work at UConn. Miller has not been charged with a crime. He has not commented on the allegations.
In a statement, President Susan Herbst said, "As leaders, we would not hesitate to defend the university when the record shows it has acted appropriately, but by the same token, we would not defend the indefensible. Being forthright about both our successes and our failures is essential."
Herbst said, of the report, "We will review it carefully and thoughtfully. We will take all appropriate action and we will do so as swiftly as possible."
This report includes information from The Associated Press.