U of M hires 2 attorneys to conduct probe in wake of Teague's departure

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Two attorneys from a Minneapolis law firm have been taken on to conduct the investigation into the University of Minnesota's athletics department following the sexual harassment allegations against former director Norwood Teague.

The U of M announced in a statement Friday it's gone outside of its own legal team by hiring Karen Schanfield, a partner at Fredrickson & Byron P.A., and her law partner Joseph Dixon, a former federal prosecutor.

It follows the resignation last week of Teague, after reports were made by two female members of President Eric Kaler's senior leadership team that he had groped and sexually harassed them.

It has since emerged, according to the Star Tribune, that complaints about Teague's behavior date back to 2012 and his former position at Virginia Commonwealth University, which settled a gender discrimination complaint for $125,000. The U of M settled a similar complaint in 2013 for $175,000.

The U has asked that Schanfield and Dixon investigate the following:

  • All allegations of sexual harassment against Teague or other athletics department leaders made since Teague's resignation.
  • Review all confidential sexual harassment complaints made against the department to ensure they had been properly investigated.
  • Discern whether the university knew or should have known about the allegations of harassment by Teague, but failed to address them.
  • Review whether the U of M vetted Teague properly before he was hired, including whether appropriate checks into his background were made.
  • Assess whether those who have experienced sexual harassment from the athletics department have felt comfortable reporting it and whether their reports were addressed properly.

Kaler also announced that an audit will be conducted by Gail Klatt, the university's associate vice president of internal audits, which will start immediately with an "initial focus on the information most pertinent to the activities surrounding Teague."

The Star Tribune notes that an independent audit will also be conducted, looking at expense reports, travel and other spending in the department since Teague took over in 2012.

Kaler regrets 'poor choice of words'

In his Friday statement, President Kaler also apologized for his choice of words while announcing Teague's resignation last Friday.

During the news conference, he said: "I view this as the action of one man who was over-served and a series of bad events happened."

"I regret that very poor choice of words because I cannot state strongly enough that Teague is entirely responsible for his behavior, and alcohol use is no excuse. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated at the University of Minnesota, and his resignation was the appropriate result of his actions."

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