Ex-U-M Provost Sexually Harassed Employees, Had Sex In Offices: Report

WWJ News
July 31, 2020 - 1:19 pm
University of Michigan

(credit: George Fox/WWJ)

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(WWJ) A 94-page report on allegations against a former University of Michigan provost paints an odious picture of a man who sexually harassed a number of women.

The report from the law firm WilmerHale says Martin Philbert, who left the university last month, targeted graduate students who worked in his research lab, as well as university employees. 

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It's alleged that Philbert made comments about women’s bodies, redirected conversations with women to the topic of sex, and demanded hugs. 

According to the report:  "He directed his behavior toward women who worked in both the SPH (School of Public Health) Dean’s Office and in the Provost’s Office, including one woman he encouraged to move from the Dean’s Office to the Provost’s Office. Among other sexual comments, he told three different women that he wanted to see below their tan lines; told one woman that he was 'aching' for her, and that they could have 'beautiful coffee-colored babies' together; and told another woman that 'if I wasn’t married, I would really go after you.'"

In addition, the report says before some women began working for Philbert, they were warned of his reputation and not to be alone with him.  

"Philbert served as Dean of SPH for the next six and a half years," the report continues. "He was generally viewed as successful and was renewed for a second term in 2015 by then-Provost Martha Pollack. But he sexually harassed several women, this time with a focus on the Dean’s office, including junior members of his staff. He continued making sexual comments around staff and insisting on hugs. And he went further with some women — making targeted sexual comments and comments about their appearances.

"Philbert re-directed his attention away from some women to others on his own accord, or because the women took steps to evade him. For some, his advances led to relationships. While Dean, Philbert was in sexual relationships with at least three staff members at SPH. These relationships overlapped — and included sexual relations in University offices and explicit photos that Philbert stored on his University-owned devices. One of the women was in a relationship with Philbert for roughly a year and a half. In the course of the relationship, she received a promotion. When the relationship had ended, she felt that Philbert made her work environment more difficult."

"...He pressed some of these women to send him explicit photos, which he stored on his University-owned devices. And he engaged in sexual contact with them in University offices, including with one woman on a near-daily basis for a time. These relationships took a toll on the environment in the Provost’s office and created uncomfortable dynamics among some staff," the report claims. 

Read the complete report HERE.

While investigators talked with 128 people, Philbert did not speak with him. He did not immediately comment on the report. 

 In a statement, the U of M says the university took quick action when it received allegations of sexual misconduct in January, relieving the provost of his duties and beginning an investigation within a matter of days.