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The University of Michigan To Pay $9.25 Million In Sexual Misconduct Settlement

Former University of Michigan Provost Martin Philbert began his career at the university as an assistant professor and ascended up through the School of Public Health, becoming its dean. The university made him second in command of the entire institution in 2017. After multiple reports of misconduct in January 2020, the university placed him on leave. A July 2020 independent investigation revealed that Philbert engaged in sexually harassing conduct and that some university officials received complaints about his conduct beginning in 2005.

Investigators from WilmerHale interviewed 128 individuals including current and former employees, former students, and university administrators. The firm found “significant evidence that Philbert engaged in a wide range of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, for at least fifteen years.” In addition, the investigation revealed, “numerous times when University personnel received information about Philbert’s sexually harassing conduct.” The report details Philbert threatening witnesses if they disclosed his behavior. Philbert’s sexually harassing conduct included commenting about women’s bodies, redirecting workplace conversations to sex, and demanding hugs from women. He also engaged in at least two sexual relationships with university employees. He stored nude photos of the women on institution-owned devices and engaged in some sort of sexual relations with them in university offices.

Eight women brought claims against the former provost and will share the $9.25 million settlement. In a public statement about the settlement, the university spokesperson stated,

“The University of Michigan failed on many levels, as this individual advanced through the administrative ranks. We recognize how difficult it was for these eight women to come forward to share their experiences. We thank them for their courage and we apologize to each one of them and to all survivors.”