The Legal Beat
The Official Report Of The Sexual Harassment Claims Against The Law School Dean Is Pretty Damning
Posted on Tuesday July 11, 2017
UPDATE (2:53 p.m.): This post has been updated to include a second report we’ve received.
Former NIU Law School dean Eric Dannenmaier has asked for an injunction to keep the school from releasing the report of its investigation into the complaints of harassment that ultimately led to Dannenmaier’s leaving the top post. While the judge ponders this request, the school has denied a newspaper’s FOIA request for the materials.
Above the Law has obtained a redacted copy of the official report of the findings of the affirmative action investigation into one of the complaints — available here — and it’s pretty obvious why Dannenmaier tried to keep the school from sharing its work. When Dannenmaier resigned, he was quick to note that there were no allegations of “inappropriate touching” or “quid pro quo requests.” While the report does not specifically include any such findings — and it’s worth noting that this doesn’t foreclose the existence of allegations of inappropriate touching or quid pro quo requests, just that they did not make it into the official findings — the report certainly paints the picture of a hostile work environment:
• Discussion pertaining to his relationship with his wife;
• Asking you, “Is it just sex or are you in love, because if it’s love you shouldn’t have to be apart” in regards to your boyfriend;
• Teasingly asking you if you “could have slept with someone else” or saying “she could do better”;
• On a car ride to Rockford with you alone, discussing your relationship with your boyfriend, asking you who else you have had sex with and a dating or “toxic” relationship within the College of Law
This is an important newsflash for all the law school deans out there: maybe don’t press your recent grad employees for sex details. And definitely don’t quip that your employee’s boyfriend is just a “fuck buddy.”
Moreover, witnesses testified that Dannenmaier referred to your boyfriend/current law student as a “fuck buddy.” Dannenmaier denies making this statement, yet witness testimony concludes otherwise.
*** UPDATE (2:53 p.m.): We have received a second official report, and the findings in that are also shocking:
That’s appropriate dinner conversation… at the Playboy Mansion. Everywhere else though, it’s pretty much impossible to excuse.
While earlier media reports focused on two complainants — and, apparently erroneously claimed those employees were temps — the official report identifies multiple people, at all levels of the NIU community, backing up the formal complaints with allegations of a hostile work environment.
These remarks, conduct and/or connotations included, but were not limited to, comments of a sexual nature Dannenmaier made to a student during his Constitutional Law I class (singling out a student in class and subjecting her to a sexual comment and then repeatedly attempting to address the inappropriate conduct with her directly) and comments regarding a colleague’s appearance during faculty meetings (“beautiful,” “gorgeous,” and able to recruit men into the College). Numerous witnesses also testified that Dannenmaier commented about “dating” a female candidate for hire and hugged a female professor without her approval and/or request.
Read in context, it’s abundantly clear why Dannenmaier wants these reports shielded. Reading the original Chicago Tribune article about his resignation, it’s striking how much the piece is shaped by Dannenmaier’s narrative. The whole investigation was limited to two employees, who were temps, and focused on “just words.” Putting aside the fact that verbal harassment is a real thing, that piece reads as a cabined dispute between three people.
But the official report makes clear that this wasn’t a small investigation into two limited complaints, but a comprehensive review that captured allegations that women may not have ever brought forward absent the investigation.
We’ll see what more we might learn if the judge denies the injunction request, but this single report proves — regardless of the truth or falsity of any individual allegation — that it was in the best interests of the school for Dannenmaier to step aside.
(Both redacted official reports are available on the next page…)
Joe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news.
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