2013-2014 Personnel Incident
2013-2014 Personnel Incident
The University of Connecticut became aware in summer 2013 of an ongoing criminal investigation involving one of its employees, who was immediately placed on administrative leave as the University launched its own personnel review of the allegations.
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, a law firm hired as special counsel to investigate the allegations, conducted a comprehensive independent review over the following months of the accusations and UConn’s response to them in the years prior to 2013. That report was presented to the UConn Board of Trustees at its meeting on Feb. 26, 2014.
The special counsel reported that its investigation revealed “strong, credible evidence” to support allegations that Robert Miller, a UConn professor of music, engaged in serious misconduct with minors and with University students. In addition, the independent investigation found the response of University officials prior to February 2013 was insufficient to ensure the safety of minors on campus and University students.
However, the report added, President Susan Herbst and other University officials responded with what special counsel called “commendable urgency” upon learning of the allegations in February 2013.
The full report of the special counsel can be read on this website under the category, “Related Investigative Records and Public Documents.”
Statements about the report from Herbst and UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh also have been posted on this site under the category, “UConn Statements and Letters.”
The University takes accusations of this nature extremely seriously, and has taken a number of steps throughout the process. Several of those steps are set forth in the timeline which is part of this website, which also includes relevant contacts and resources pertaining to this matter.
UConn President Susan Herbst
Feb 26, 2014
This report contains some very disturbing findings. We have nothing but compassion for all victims of sexual misconduct. And this is especially true when the victims are children.
It seems so obvious to us today that action should have been taken when these allegations were first known to university employees, three, six and eight years ago, and even before that.
Much has happened since then, but the world was not so different as to justify their inaction.
And nothing can excuse some of the behavior detailed in this report on the part of certain individuals.
The safety of our students – and the safety of our entire community – is a paramount concern for us.
And as a university, we must always be absolutely accountable. And so must our employees.
Our focus is on identifying the truth and shining a bright light on it, whether that truth reflects well on UConn or not.
We must never hesitate to look at ourselves or to invite scrutiny. Just the opposite.
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. That is how we earn and keep the trust of our students and the larger community we serve.
We owe that to ourselves and to all those to whom we are accountable.
The final report was accepted today. We will review it carefully and thoughtfully. We will take all appropriate action and we will do so as swiftly as possible.
Further, we will communicate our decisions to the board, the university and to the public at the appropriate time.
My thanks to the Board – and particularly the special committee – for your hard work and patience.
And my thanks also to our employees – current and former – who cooperated with this review from beginning to end.
University of Connecticut
UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Lawrence McHugh
Feb 26, 2014
Last year, members of the current University administration became aware of serious allegations that had been made in the past regarding a professor in the Music Department, Robert Miller.
Initially, these allegations were related to alleged sexual misconduct on his part with minors off campus.
The allegations originally dated to 2006, 2008 and 2011.
In February of 2013, a faculty member brought a letter she had received in 2011 containing allegations about Miller to the attention of the new dean of the School of Fine Arts, Brid Grant.
Dean Grant immediately notified appropriate university personnel.
UConn Police immediately opened a criminal investigation and worked with the Connecticut State Police and Virginia law enforcement.
In June 2013, as part of the criminal investigation, a search warrant was executed at Miller’s residence. The information in the warrant received press attention.
Soon thereafter, another faculty member received allegations of possible misconduct involving Miller and UConn students. These were the first allegations involving UConn directly.
Within 48 hours of the first report of those allegations, President Herbst met with senior UConn leadership and directed that the university administration do the following:
- Broaden the scope of the police investigation.
- Commence a Title IX investigation.
- Commence a personnel investigation of Miller.
- Engage an outside forensic investigator to assist in the inquiries.
- Hire outside Special Counsel to do an independent investigation of the University’s handling of the allegations.
That is the report we are receiving today.
The president sought to hire outside counsel because she and her leadership team were concerned that the allegations made in earlier years may not have been properly handled by University personnel at the time they were received.
In light of that, the president believed that the University’s prior actions needed to be independently reviewed and evaluated — and that the independent counsel needed to report directly to the board so that they could remain completely independent from the University administration.
She recommended that the investigation be conducted under the board’s supervision and that the Board of Trustees form a committee to oversee it.
The Board agreed and formed the Special Committee for Investigation, with myself as the chair.
The attorney general’s office selected the firm of Drinker Biddle and Reath as Special Counsel to undertake the independent investigation and produce a report of their findings.
The special committee was briefed regularly by the firm throughout this review.
Special Counsel’s initial draft report, including their independent conclusions, were presented to the special committee orally on Jan. 29, 2014.
Special Counsel’s report was received by the committee on Feb. 24, Monday of this week.
The committee met this morning in open session and voted to formally accept the report.
The Special Counsel team at Drinker Biddle and Reath was led by Scott Coffina, a former deputy White House counsel and a former United States attorney.
(Mr. Coffina presented report to Board of Trustees in open session. Presentation was followed by questions from board members before Chairman McHugh’s remarks continued, as reflected below).
I want to first thank Drinker Biddle and Reath for the enormous amount of work they have done on this.
To underscore Mr. Coffina’s comments: they interviewed dozens and dozens of staff, faculty, students and individuals outside of the University.
They reviewed tens of thousands of records. This was a very complex and time-consuming undertaking.
I would also like to acknowledge current university employees, as well as those former employees who agreed to be interviewed, and who gave the Drinker Biddle and Reath team unfettered access to themselves and their records.
I would like to thank my fellow members of special committee for their time and attention to this important matter.
The committee was composed of Trustees Andrea Dennis LaVigne, Marilda Gandara, Tom Kruger and Tom Ritter.
The special counsel has submitted an excellent report. I would like to take a moment to share the board’s perspective on it.
From the outset, what was most important to the board …
… to the committee, to me as its chair …
… to the university and to President Herbst …
… was the truth.
To that end, the University undertook a comprehensive investigation on its own initiative.
The University and the board were interested in facts and evidence, no matter where they took that investigation, and regardless of how the findings reflected on the University.
Our objective was to do the right thing, not to avoid the consequences of past actions.
In the end, two conclusions are abundantly clear, as the Drinker Biddle and Reath report outlines:
First, that the allegations pertaining to Robert Miller were not properly handled by University employees when the allegations were originally received in 2006, 2008 and 2011, and even prior to that.
That is what makes this report so disturbing.
We as an institution believe firmly in the presumption of innocence, but at the same time, serious allegations need to be taken seriously and acted on.
As the report makes clear, the University’s past response was not adequate and that is unacceptable.
Second, it is equally clear that once these old allegations came to the attention of the University’s current leadership in June 2013, President Herbst and her senior team took swift, decisive and absolutely appropriate action.
I am pleased to see this confirmed in the independent report.
Doing so meant that they were doing their jobs – which we as a board rightly expect of them.
The board further expects that the president and her leadership team will review the report and its conclusions and that they will take whatever further action they believe is warranted.
University of Connecticut Board of Trustees
University of Connecticut Board of Trustees – Special Committee on Investigations