UConn trustees get update on sexual misconduct allegations; clarify policy on 'romantic relationships'

The University of Connecticut's board of trustees was briefed on the investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against music professor Robert Miller Wednesday and voted to update UConn's policy on discrimination, harassment and inappropriate romantic relationships.

Miller, 66, of Mansfield was placed on paid administrative leave and banned from campus on June 21 after allegations surfaced that he had a history of having sex with young boys and had inappropriate contact with university students.

Miller, who has worked at UConn since 1982 and served as the head of the music department, earns $135,741 a year. He has not been charged with any crimes, but campus and state police in Connecticut and police in Virginia are investigating.

The university last month solicited bids for an outside law firm and budgeted $250,000 to conduct an independent investigation into the way UConn handled information about Miller that university employees had received as early as 2006.

UConn General Counsel Richard Orr gave trustees an overview of the case at Wednesday's meeting, and Larry McHugh, chairman of the board of trustees, talked about the timing of the information received by the university, according to university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.

The trustees also met in executive session, but it was unclear whether they discussed the Miller case.

In a letter to the "University Community" explaining the newly approved policy on discrimination, harassment and inappropriate romantic relations, UConn President Susan Herbst said the policy more clearly identifies reporting responsibilities for deans, department heads, directors and supervisors, and provides more information about the university offices that handle such issues.

"It should be noted the university has been shaping this policy for approximately one year and it is not in reaction to any specific instance or matter," Herbst wrote.

The policy specifically prohibits romantic relationships between faculty and staff and undergraduate students; faculty or staff with graduate students over whom they have authority; graduate students and students over whom they have authority; and supervisors with subordinate employees.

The university had longstanding policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment and discouraging romantic relationships, according to Herbst, but the new policy "more forcefully reflects our institutional values and prevailing higher education non-discrimination and anti-harassment principles."

Court documents and information released by the university indicate that the Eastern District Major Crime Squad in Connecticut and police in Fairfax County, Va., are investigating allegations that Miller sexually assaulted five boys, ages 10 and 13, while serving as a volunteer at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn., from 1989 to 1992 and while teaching school in Virginia from 1969 to 1972.

Officials also are investigating allegations that Miller visited UConn's freshman dorms, provided drugs to students and had sex with students.

Read the new police at http://policy.uconn.edu/?p=2884

k.florin@theday.com

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