Board of Regents Launches Investigation into Source of KSTP's Report

May 11, 2017 05:02 PM

University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chair Dean Johnson announced the board is launching an investigation into the source of KSTP's report on a sexual harassment investigation of a top fundraiser in the university's athletics office.

KSTP's investigative team was provided details of an internal email sent to the Board of Regents last night that stated Randy Handel, the associate director of development, had violated the university's sexual harassment policy.

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The board is asking each of its 12 members, as well as university employees who had access to the information, to sign affidavits that they did not share it.

RELATED: U of M Athletics Official Investigated on Sexual Harassment Claims

A prepared statement from Regents Chair Dean Johnson said: 

"It is a great honor and responsibility to serve on the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents.

"We strive to uphold tremendous fiduciary responsibilities that require us always to act professionally and ethically, and to maintain privacy and other legal expectations. So it is greatly disappointing that we are faced with the potential that a member of the University community may have betrayed the public's trust.

That's why members of the Board believe strongly that we need to investigate any potential leaks of private and confidential information," Johnson said. "We will get to the bottom of this and take necessary action as we become aware of the facts."

The university did not comment on what it termed "accusations reported on by KSTP" beyond the following statement: 

"The University takes very seriously any accusations made against any of our employees," said University Spokesperson Chuck Tombarge. "However, as is the case in any private personnel matter, the University cannot discuss the details of the current situation.

"We have comprehensive human resource processes in place to investigate allegations fully and allow all parties involved to respond to investigation findings. We are committed to respecting the privacy of all involved whenever employment matters are under consideration. Only when matters are concluded, and when permitted by law, can we provide additional information." 

Johnson said at a Thursday press conference that the board is asking for "patience (and) understanding."

He added, "It will be in done in a fair and judicious, forthright manner." 

The Board of Regents held an emergency meeting Thursday morning regarding the investigation of Handel, the associate athletic director of development.

He was investigated by the University of Minnesota's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) and was found to have sexually harassed an employee in the athletics department, according to an email sent to the Board of Regents Wednesday night. 

A regent provided the contents of the email with reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The email reads in part: "In a preliminary report issued on May 3, the EOAA found Handel's conduct towards (the victim) violated the University's sexual harassment policy."

Efforts to reach Handel for comment were unsuccessful. A university spokesperson confirmed he was put on paid leave Tuesday.

KSTP-TV regularly relies on sources, including confidential sources, in our newsgathering and reporting. Consistent with First Amendment principles and federal and state law, KSTP-TV protects the identity of its confidential sources to the fullest extent of the law. 

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Theresa Malloy

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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