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Law firm hired in UConn sex misconduct case

By Karen Florin

Publication: The Day

Published September 10. 2013 4:00AM
Professor placed on paid leave after allegations became public

A Philadephia-based law firm experienced in sexual misconduct investigations in educational settings has been selected from a field of 28 applicants to investigate how the University of Connecticut handled information it received as early as 2006 about music professor Robert Miller.

"After thorough and thoughtful review of a field of qualified applicants, the Office of the Attorney General has awarded this contract to Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP of Philadelphia," Attorney General George Jepsen said in a press release.

Miller, 66, of Mansfield, who had worked at the university since 1982, 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 served as the head of the music department, has not been charged with any crimes, but campus and state police in Connecticut and police in Virginia are investigating.

The university in July solicited bids for an outside law firm and budgeted $250,000 to conduct an independent investigation and report its findings to the school's board of trustees. The firm will also represent and advise UConn in an internal probe into whether it complied with federal Title IX procedures concerning sexual abuse allegations.

A three-member selection committee interviewed six finalists from among 28 bidders before choosing Drinker Biddle & Reath, according to the memorandum. A national firm with home offices in Philadelphia, Drinker Biddle employs 650 lawyers, according to its website.

"We can confirm we have a cadre of educational institutions we've worked with in the past, and that does include allegations of sexual misconduct," said Jennifer Morinigo, the firm's director of communications. "Our clients value our discretion in this, and we tend not to comment."

Morinigo said Drinker Biddle was not engaged to investigate the Penn State child sex abuse case.

Drinker Biddle attorneys will bill the university $550 an hour and agreed to bill for travel using New York instead of Philadelphia as the point of origin and return, according to a memorandum by the selection committee that was released Monday. The firm will assign five front line attorneys to the investigation, including partner Scott A. Coffina, a former U.S. Attorney and associate counsel to President George W. Bush who also worked in the White House Office of Political Affairs during the Reagan administration, according to the memo.

The selection committee consisted of Dean Timothy S. Fisher of the UConn Law School, Assistant Attorney General Henry Salton, who heads up the attorney general's health and eduction department, and Assistant Attorney General Kimberly P. Massicote, who heads up the environment department.

The other five finalists included Ballard Spahr LLP; Day Pitney LLP; McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter; Pepper Hamilton LLP; and Wiggin and Dana.

k.florin@theday.com

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