UConn seeks to fire professor and former dean in sexual misconduct case

The University of Connecticut announced Thursday that it has initiated disciplinary proceedings against music professor Robert F. Miller, who allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct with students for years, and professor David Woods, who is accused of failing to take action to prevent the misconduct while serving as dean of the School of Fine Arts.

The announcement came a day after the board of trustees received a report from the Drinker Biddle & Reath law firm that said there is strong and credible evidence that Miller, a tenured professor in his mid-60s who had taught at UConn since 1983, had engaged in sexual misconduct with students. The report concluded that UConn officials, including Woods, put the university community at risk by failing to respond adequately.

The university communications office issued a press release indicating UConn is seeking to fire Miller and Woods and has notified the employees in accordance with its collective bargaining agreement with the American Association for University Professors.

Miller was placed on paid administrative leave from his $140,907-a-year job and banned from the campus after university officials learned of criminal investigations into allegations that he had sexually abused a young boy at a Virginia middle school in 1969 and several seriously ill boys from The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in the early 1990s.

Woods stepped down from the dean's role in 2012 but remained on the faculty of the Neag School of Education with an annual salary of $237,547.

During Wednesday's meeting of the university's board of trustees, President Susan B. Herbst said, "Nothing can excuse some of the behavior detailed in this report on the part of certain individuals." She stated that the university would "take all appropriate action and we will do so as swiftly as possible" regarding a faculty member's alleged misconduct and the failure of others to act.

The Drinker Biddle law firm, retained by the state attorney general's office to conduct an independent investigation, interviewed 57 witnesses and reviewed more than 27,000 emails and 6,000 pages of documents. The firm interviewed students and former students who told them, among other things, that Miller gravitated toward young-looking freshman boys who came to be known as "Bob's Boys," and that he often took students to his Vermont vacation home where he made them Manhattans, sat naked with them in a hot tub and exchanged massages.

The firm substantiated reports that Miller, who has never been charged with a sexual crime, had molested the middle school student in Virginia in 1969 as well as boys at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford in the early 1990s. While the statute of limitations on sexual assaults has expired in Connecticut, Virginia authorities could still charge Miller.

k.florin@theday.com

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