UW System pays $325K to settle sex harassment suit
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The University of Wisconsin System will pay a former student $325,000 to settle claims that a professor sexually harassed her.
The former student, identified as A.R. in court documents, sued in October saying UW-Oshkosh violated her rights and acted “with deliberate indifference” to the sexual harassment she faced from her former art professor Michael Beitz.
The student said she had a consensual relationship with Beitz in 2012. But he began sexually abusing and harassing her when she tried to distance herself from him the next year. Her lawsuit argued the school violated her Title IX rights when it failed to take action against the professor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
A UW-Oshkosh investigation in 2015 found Beitz violated the UW System’s sexual harassment and consensual relationship policies. He resigned in June 2015. Two months later, he landed a job at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Officials at CU-Boulder said they were unaware of Beitz’s history. UW-Oshkosh officials said they didn’t know if anyone was contacted for a reference or if the investigation was shared with Beitz’s new employer. CU-Boulder spokesman Ryan Huff said Beitz resigned May 2019, but didn’t say why.
Beitz didn’t respond to a request for comment.
A.R.’s attorney, Mary Kennelly, also didn’t respond to multiple requests for an interview. According to court documents, a separate settlement with Beitz is in progress.
USA Today Network-Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel conducted an investigation in May 2018 that found multiple instances of faculty and staff who were found to have harassed students, and then secured similar jobs elsewhere.
Gail Panske, the then-chair of the art department, is noted by name in the student’s lawsuit against the university system. Panske is not listed as a defendant. The former student said Panske knew about the relationship between her and Beitz but didn’t report it.
UW-Oshkosh spokeswoman Peggy Breister declined to say if the university is reviewing the allegations A.R. made against Panske.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com