MSU professor cleared in sexual harassment complaint

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

A Michigan State University professor has been cleared by a MSU office of a sexual harassment complaint that stemmed from a brief relationship with a student in the early ’90s.

The complaint was filed in January by Ellen Fedon-Keyt, a psychologist in Dearborn, who claimed Sue Carter drew her into an inappropriate relationship that began when she was a Wayne State University student. At the time, Carter was teaching at WSU. Both Fedon-Keyt and Carter went on to MSU, the latter as a faculty member and Fedon-Keyt as a student.

Carter never denied the relationship, but Fedon-Keyt said in retrospect, Carter engaged her in a sexual relationship while Fedon-Keyt was vulnerable and emotionally distraught over the death of her father.

On Sunday, Carter and Fedon-Keyt acknowledged that the MSU investigation had ruled that the relationship did not amount to sexual harassment.

MSU officials could not be reached for comment Sunday. One of the reasons cited in the MSU ruling was that Fedon-Keyt was not a student in any of Carter’s classes at MSU at the time of their relationship.

“I am pleased that Michigan State University’s Office of Institutional (Equity) has cleared me of allegations made in this hurtful, unwarranted and concerted attack,” Carter said in a statement emailed to The News on Sunday. The Office of Institutional Equity reviews concerns related to discrimination and harassment.

Fedon-Keyt said Sunday in an email to The News that “she had no regrets about reporting her behavior,” referring to Carter.

“Just because someone’s behavior doesn’t violate a policy doesn’t mean that it’s ethical,” Fedon-Keyt said in the email. “It remains undisputed that Sue Carter engaged in a sexual relationship with an undergraduate former student of hers who was over twenty years younger than she.”

In January, Carter resigned as MSU’s faculty athletic adviser over the university’s handling of the case of Larry Nassar, the former sports doctor who is accused of sexually abusing more than 250 women over more than two decades under the guise of performing medical treatment. He was sentenced to what likely amounts to life in prison after being convicted of sexual assault and child pornography charges.

Shortly afterward Carter’s public remarks about her resignation as faculty adviser, Fedon-Keyt filed her complaint against Carter.

Carter said in her email Sunday that the support of “family, friends, faculty and students has been very gratifying.” She added: “As part of Michigan State University’s healing, I look forward to the time when we can make distinctions between the real and serious sexual assaults and harassments that must be addressed, and frivolous claims. I commit to working on behalf of those who have suffered sexual assault and harassment at MSU.”

Fedon-Keyt said first heard of the MSU ruling through the media.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN