Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2006

Investigation report draws no conclusions in harassment case

September 23, 2006


— A report on an independent investigation at Johnson County Community College recounts a female worker's allegations that the former president sexually harassed her but does not draw any conclusions about what happened.

Teresa Lee, human resources manager at the school, alleged that former President Charles Carlsen had repeatedly brushed her breast with his elbow or forearm, according to a narrative written by Lee and cited in the report, which does not substantiate the claims.

Carlsen retired as president in April after the college newspaper, The Campus Ledger, published an article detailing allegations Lee first made three years ago.

The next month, the college's board of trustees asked Kansas City lawyer Betsy Badger to conduct an independent investigation.

Badger's 12-page report, released to trustees Thursday at their regular meeting, said that Lee followed college procedures related to sexual harassment and that the matter had been dealt with in November 2003.

Faculty members, who were among those who packed the board room and spilled into the hallway, said they were concerned that the report didn't appear to address trustees' knowledge of the matter.

"When did they become aware of this, and what did they know?" said history professor Michael Hembree.

Trustees said they had not had an opportunity to read the report and did not immediately comment on it.

Badger, whose firm billed the college $377,390 through Sept. 3 for the work, said there was more to the investigation than the report.

"Our legal analysis, advice and communications with representatives of the Board about the Lee/Carlsen matter are not included here," the report said.

The report also noted that the firm's work included a review of other personnel and policy matters.

Carlsen, who called for the review before his retirement, said he had reviewed the report and had nothing to say beyond what he said when he retired. He said he had done nothing wrong.

"I am pleased that the college will now be able to move forward with its important work without further distraction," he said in a written statement Thursday.

The report noted that Carlsen denied all of Lee's allegations of misconduct. He initially was cooperative, the report said, and gave Badger access to his college computer and personal papers. But Carlsen stopped participating in the review on July 13 on the advice of his lawyer.

Lee, who called the report a disappointment, didn't immediately respond to Badger's request for an interview. The report said she eventually answered most but not all the questions and declined to give Badger access to her college-owned computer.

"I'm just very surprised that this is the result of all of that work," Lee said Thursday.

The report said Lee confronted Carlsen on Nov. 10, 2003, telling him it made her uncomfortable when he stood too close to her.

Both agreed that Lee did not confront Carlsen with a specific claim that he had touched her breast, and Carlsen denied ever touching her breast. Lee told the attorneys that she counted on Carlsen to know what she meant.

Discussion of the matter apparently ended after a second meeting that included Lee, Carlsen, human resources director Dorothy Friedrich and special assistant to the president Susan Lindahl. Friedrich and Lindahl are now vice presidents.


KS 11 years, 8 months ago

Could have come to the same conclusion w/o spending $377,000.00. This isn't passing the smell test to me.

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