MSU report: Ex-alumni chief sexually harassed student
Former Michigan State University alumni chief Scott Westerman violated the university's sexual harassment policy by sending multiple text and email messages that were sexual, intimate and romantic to an undergraduate student, including "some materials on what qualifies as good sexual intercourse" and telling her that he loved her, according to a report released Wednesday.
The Final Investigative Report of MSU's Office of Institutional Equity also found that Westerman made a sexual advance toward the woman in a hotel room during a university-sponsored program December 2011.
"The investigation established that (Westerman) engaged in severe, persistent and pervasive, unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature with a claimant," according to the investigation report summary.
But Westerman, the former associate vice president for alumni relations, said he was only being a father figure to the woman and did not recall the hotel incident but "wouldn't have done that."
The report comes two months after MSU's OIE office determined that Westerman violated university policy, but the university did not release the investigative report.
Westerman was not disciplined because he is no longer employed by MSU, He left his post in July amid the investigation, but said when he announced his resignation in April that he was stepping down to be closer to family.
In August, Westerman said he disagreed with the findings "and regret the distraction it caused. I no longer work for the institution and will have no further comments."
He could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday.
But in a recent post on Facebook, Westerman announced he was shutting down his account on the social media site.
Two hours earlier, he posted "Kent Keith's Paradoxical commandments."
"If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway," Westerman posted on his Facebook page. "In my experience, some will also twist truths and tell outright lies. Realize that this is the result of their pain and not a reflection of who you really are."
The woman said she decided to come forward because Westerman contacted her about reaching out to people at the MSU Sexual Assault Program and Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program.
"(The woman) stated that she felt that given the sexual harassment she experienced, (Westerman) was not the appropriate person to be working on this important problem at the university," according to the report.
The heavily-redacted report showed the woman met Westerman in August 2010 at an event, and then at another event a week later.
He immediately "took an interest" in her, according to the report. Soon after, the two developed a "close 'mentorship' relationship that later became 'father like,'" according to the report
Westerman let the woman use his car, brought her presents, gave her money for groceries and contact lenses, traveled with her and added her to his University Club membership, according to the report. They also would have dinner together.
"Their relationship evolved from mentorship to fatherly to advice on sex," according to the report. "Claimant stated that between 2010 and 2012 (Westerman) 'would send me texts and articles on what to expect from a spouse and materials on what qualifies as good sexual intercourse.'"
"Then he would shift regular conversations into sexual conversations," according to the report. "It was all hidden as 'fatherly advice.' She also stated that she received a New York Times article from (Westerman) in 2011 which discussed 'good sex.'"
Westerman then started telling the woman he loved her in emails and other communications with "LYNMW," which means Love You No Matter What.
The woman said she "was expected to reply the same to him, because according to (Westerman), it was all a 'teaching moment,'" according to the report. "(The woman) had to reply 'love you too' or 'love you back.' She stated that (Westerman) said 'he was teaching [her] how to accept and give love,"
She also said that Westerman asked her about her sex life, and commented on it.
She "did not 'pick it up as weird right away,' but has come to realize it was wrong," according to the report.
The report included a communication between the woman and Westerman where he told her that she had "that subtle smile and indescribable look of a woman who got laid."
Things escalated in December 2011, according to the report. After a game, the woman was drinking with friends. She later called Westerman and asked him to pick her up because did not want to spend the night at the hotel where she was registered. Because of redactions in the report, it was unclear why the woman was at a hotel.
"(Westerman) picked her up in his car and took her to his hotel ... (and) to his room which had two beds," according to the report. "(The woman) laid down in one of them."
She said that Westerman rubbed her back and "asked her if she wanted him to hold her."
The woman said no.
"(Westerman) then told her, 'I wish I could have sex with you so you could know what it's really suppose to feel like," according to the report.
The woman said she tried to brush it off and go to sleep. The next morning, he dropped her off at her hotel and did not address what happened the night before.
Romantic communications continued through early 2012. according to the report.
Westerman hosted and paid for a party for her at the MSU stadium but it's not clear why.
"(The woman) recalled feeling flattered and slightly uncomfortable by the gesture because her family was skeptical about her relationship with (him)," the report said.
"(She) also received an MSU pendant from (Westerman) ..."
After the hotel incident, her work started to suffer and she started to distance herself from him, according to the report.
The report includes numerous email exchanges between Westerman and the woman, including one where he sends her quotes from writers Nora Ephron and Susan Sontag.
The woman said Westerman "started getting irritated" when she continued to distance herself from him, according to the report.
The report included summaries of interviews with several witnesses, including a woman who said she had a similar experience with Westerman.
He took up running because she was running and would buy her things. They also took a trip to Chicago and and shared a room together, the report said.
"She stated, 'Nothing happened. He was fine, aside from being creepy,'" according to the report.
He "expressed to her that his goal was to 'make her see' what a 'loving relationship should look like.'"
"[A]t one point, the two went out for a beer and (Westerman) told her he was in love with her ... she was 'taken a back" and told (him) that she saw him as a 'father figure,'" according to the report.
"The guy I was dating at the time didn't like the amount of attention (Westerman) was giving me," according to the report.
Officials interviewed Westerman in March and when asked to describe their relationship, he said he wanted to support her and offer "parental resources" but it was unclear why because of redactions in the report.
"(Westerman) said that he wrote down on paper what he wanted to communicate to (her) about this 'parental' relationship because he did not 'want there to be confusion," according to the report. "(He) recalled saying to her, 'If there's anything that you feel uncomfortable with, tell us, we are in this to support you, not take advantage.'"
Investigators asked Westerman if he had ever had a "parental" relationship like this with other students or employees and he said that he meets 4,000-5,000 students every year, engages with 40 or 50 and creates bonds with 12.
"We go to their graduations and wedding, exchange Christmas cards," according to the report, quoting Westerman. "Basically, people that become our friends, that was the case with (the woman)."
Westerman stated that he is "very careful about these things," the report said.
"(He) added, 'I have a history of promoting women and minorities and creating mentorship programs for them," according to the report. "(He) stated that in the past 'people couldn't believe that women couldn't get to a position of power without 'hanky panky' and we had an investigation, nothing came out of it, so I learned what I needed to do to protect myself. I was very clear about this type of relationship I wanted to have with her (the woman), a parental one."
Asked to describe their relationship, Westerman said she would call him after she had a breakup. If she said she looked horrible, he'd tell her she was beautiful. She became involved with his family. He texted her with her regularly and wrote a list of things that he loved about her and took her to dinner alone to share it with her, according to the report.
He explained that he sent her the LYNMW after the woman had had a breakup with a boyfriend.
"It was never saying I wanted to have an inappropriate relationship with her," according to the report.
When asked about the emails about sex and relationship, Westerman said he was sharing advice and information that she might be interested in. Westerman also said that she told him that "sex is a sport game more than a relationship game" and talked about her many partners often, Westerman said.
"(Westerman) stated that he did not have these conversations with any other students, but thought that because they had a 'parental' relationship such conversations were acceptable," according to the report.
When asked about money he gave her, he said that he did not do that many times and he once gave a former male student $1,200 to help with a business.
Asked about the hotel incident, Westerman said he did not recall it.
"I don't remember, but I wouldn't have done that," according to the report. "That would be so wrong on so many levels."