Third Investigation: ‘Up to 10 students, faculty report being harassed by former UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband’

Originally posted 4.19.19.

One reads today, in a Good Friday records release from the UW System, that Up to 10 students, faculty report being harassed by former UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband:

An investigation into the husband of former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper found that at least seven and up to 10 students or staff reported being sexually harassed by her husband.

Kopper resigned in December after her husband, Alan “Pete” Hill, had been banned from campus. The university released the 18-page investigative report and about 850 pages of attachments on Friday in response to an open records request.

In the report, investigators conclude there is credible evidence that Hill sexually harassed both employees and students, and that the incidents occurred mainly on campus or UWW-related properties like the chancellor’s home.

A few preliminary remarks:

Widespread, Pervasive Injury.  News accounts suggest an even greater number of harassment and assault survivors than previously reported.

Investigation and Supporting Documents. I have not yet read the eighteen-page report or hundreds of pages in supporting documents.  If the report is not published online by the papers that requested it, I will submit my own request to the UW System under Wisconsin’s Public Records Law, Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31–19.39.

UW System InvestigationUpdate 4.19.19 9:30 PM: Updated reporting notes that the UW System used outside investigators.  There were two prior purely internal investigations, the existence of which remained concealed from the public for months, and System Pres. Ray Cross and others kept those prior investigations secret until a newspaper’s public records request forced their acknowledgment.

The prospect of ongoing litigation against the UW System for so many cases of individual injury means that the System has a financial and reputational self-interest in minimizing a description of those injuries.

The Ongoing Tragedy. The last two chancellors presided over a campus with a high number of sexual assaults, administrative concealment of harassment, and multiple published accounts of failure to process complainants’ claims properly under federal law. See, a category at FREEWHITEWATER addressing the circumstances that brought this campus, and this community, to search for a yet another chancellor.

Then and Now.  There is a fundamental difference between those who experience injury and those who merely write about it.  This difference is always in my mind.  Those who are injured deserve care and support as soon, as often, and as fully as they require it.  That care and support, even with the best intentions, will often prove inadequate, but it carries with it an expectation of immediacy.  One does not allow an injured person to go without the care she or he needs and wants, then and there.

By contrast, those of us who merely write about others’ injuries neither need nor deserve care, and so have (necessarily) no immediate expectations for ourselves.  An examination may stretch over an extended period.  Indeed, sometimes the collection of information requires relentless, methodical diligence. One returns to a subject so often as it requires, again and again if necessary, until a contrary force is at last swept away.

Most of all: one wishes that there were no injuries, and so no need for writing about them.

Previously:  Journal Sentinel: UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband banned from campus after sexual harassment investigationQuestions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, Chancellor Kopper Should Resign, A fifth woman publicly accuses UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband of sexual harassment, The UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Lack of Individual Regard, No Ordinary, Unconnected Spouse: Public officials’ use of family appointeesAn Example of Old Whitewater’s Deficient Reasoning, The Principle of Diversity Rests on Individual RightsAnother ‘Advisory Council’ Isn’t What Whitewater Needs, A Defense That’s Worse Than Nothing, 0, 448, 476, 84, Kopper Resigns, Whitewater Remains, Negative Equality is No Virtue, and A Community Listening Session for a New Chancellor.

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5 years ago

I have been reading things most of today and I did not think I could be any more broken than I already was. Disagreeing with me on an issue is fine, even to the point of finding me the wrong person to hold office. I have never nor would I ever fabricate a story of years of sexual harassment and an incident of sexual assault as some sort of grudge against an individual. I had true passion for citizen advocacy and true passion for living in Whitewater and to imagine having lied about something so deeply painful is outside my realm of understanding. I truly hope these other women are finding healing and working through this, because it is a challenge I would never wish on anyone—especially as it becomes public and discussed and speculated and then you may eventually read what the chancellor of a university you attended and worked so hard to achieve while there truly thinks of your pain. While I understand the desire for the school to move forward, there are so many wounds that remain open, I can imagine it will take far more time. Thank for you continuing to see the merit in this story.

5 years ago

It’s shocking and devastating that there were even more survivors than reported before. It was definitely “pervasive”. This community owes a debt to Stephanie and other survivors for their strength and honesty. People on our campus who defended Chancellor Kopper need to look at themselves. They made real human beings lives worse. They disrespected multiple totally independent descriptions from members of our own campus community. That must never happen again. Real healing means real respect.

Also thanks John Adams for standing firm about this.

5 years ago

What’s even more appalling about this tragedy is that while Stephanie and the other victims of this monster are left to deal with their emotional turmoil, the former Chancellor, aka: see no evil, hear no evil, has collected upwards of $160,000 and will shortly slither into a well-paid teaching position. Shameful indeed. I hope these young women mount a civil suit against the University and/or the former Chancellor even though there is no amount of money that can atone for the evil perpetrated upon them.