UConn professor facing sexual misconduct probe
Hartford - A University of Connecticut music professor who was placed on paid leave last month is under investigation by police and school officials amid allegations of sexual misconduct with university students and decades-old molestation involving children, including several boys who attended a camp for sick children.
Robert Miller worked at UConn for three decades and once led the music department. School employees were notified several times between 2006 and 2011 of allegations that Miller had sexual contact with children, but it wasn't until February of this year that school administrators were told of the claims, according to UConn officials and the state attorney general's office. And it wasn't until last month that Miller was placed on paid administrative leave.
School officials didn't have the information they needed to place Miller on leave until they received a state police search warrant affidavit last month, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said. University officials announced the creation of a Board of Trustees committee Monday to review its responses to the allegations.
Among those allegations were that in 1992, Miller inappropriately touched four boys ages 10 to 13 who attended a camp for sick children where he was a counselor. The accusers say he took them to his home without permission several times and would often make them take off their clothes, saying he had to check them for ticks and bruises. State police said the boys had hemophilia, a bleeding disorder in which the blood doesn't clot normally.
A fifth accuser says Miller molested him when he was 13 and a student at the former Whittier Intermediate School near Falls Church, Va., where Miller taught in the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to Connecticut state police. Officer Eddy Azcarate, a spokesman for Fairfax County police, confirmed his agency is investigating allegations involving the accuser.
State police said the statute of limitations has expired in the Connecticut case but not for the Virginia allegations.
And last month, a faculty member told a university official that a student alleged that Miller had sex with UConn students, visited freshmen dorms and provided drugs to students, according to the state attorney general's office. It's not clear when those alleged actions happened.
Miller, 66, of Mansfield, was barred from the Storrs campus after being placed on leave. He did not return several phone messages left at his home.
The details of the allegations against Miller, who is not charged with any crime, were not widely publicized before Monday's revelations by UConn, which said it is cooperating with the investigations. In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, many colleges and universities have sought to improve how they respond to allegations of sexual misconduct. University officials acted quickly after they first learned of the investigations of Miller this year, UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement.
"Any accusation of sexual misconduct by faculty, staff, or students is among the gravest issues that any institution must face. It is clear that serious accusations have been made, questions that demand answers have been raised, and we will do all we can to find the truth and protect the vulnerable," Herbst said.
UConn also has launched an internal review of its compliance with the federal Title IX gender discrimination law in connection with Miller's alleged sexual misconduct with UConn students. The law requires federally funded universities to act promptly when they are notified of possible sexual assault or harassment.
But Scott Berkowitz, founder of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network in Washington, D.C., said he was troubled that UConn staff members apparently were informed of the molestation allegations years ago. He said the effectiveness of any changes spurred by the Penn State episode remains to be determined.
"We're not going to know until a little further down the road, until those changes are implemented and are making a difference," Berkowitz said.
It was also revealed Monday that the Connecticut attorney general's office is seeking bids from a law firm to advise and represent UConn's Board of Trustees and that the school has hired a private investigator.
University officials released a timeline of events saying that the School of Fine Arts received an email and letter in December 2011 claiming that Miller was a pedophile. State police say the accuser in Virginia sent the email and letter.
But it wasn't until Feb. 13, 2013, that an employee brought the letter to the attention of the new dean of the fine arts school. The next day, UConn officials told campus police and an assistant state attorney general based at UConn.
The camp where Miller worked, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, opened by actor Paul Newman for sick children, released a statement saying it was aware of an investigation of a former staff member.
A mother of one of the campers told state police that she and the other boys' parents told camp officials about the allegations but didn't tell police at the time. State police say camp officials then fired Miller.
UConn website on case: www.uconn.edu/public-notification/
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