MSU report says former Alumni Association head violated sexual harassment policy

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A report by Michigan State University finds that the former head of the MSU Alumni Association engaged in “severe, persistent and pervasive unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” against someone who filed a complaint against him.

The report finds that there is “a preponderance of the evidence” that shows he violated the university’s policy on sexual harassment.

Scott Westerman announced his resignation from MSU in the spring. His last day at MSU was July 31st, although his last day on campus was in April. 

He had led the Alumni Association for 10 years.

According to the report, the victim met Westerman in August 2010 at an event that was redacted in the report. After meeting, she and Westerman developed what was described as a “mentorship” relationship that turned into a father-daughter relationship. 

The report says Westerman let her use his car and added her to his University Club membership. He would also pay for several expenses, including groceries and contact lenses.

However, the report says Westerman began giving advice on sex, including “sending articles about what to expect from a spouse and what qualifies as good sexual intercourse.” Those emails were sent throughout 2011 and 2012.

During one exchange on February 10, 2011, Westerman told the victim she had “that subtle smile and indescribable look of a woman who got laid.”

Westerman would also end his emails to the victim with “LYNMW,” meaning “Love You No Matter What.” Westerman allegedly told her that, because he was “teaching her how to accept and give love,” she had to say that she loved him back.

In December 2011, the report says the victim was drinking with friends, and called Westerman and asked him to pick her up because she did not want to stay at the hotel where she was registered. Westerman picked her up and took her back to his hotel room.

When the victim laid down in one of the beds, the report says Westerman rubbed her back and asked if she wanted him to hold her. The victim said no, and Westerman then allegedly said “I wish I could have sex with you so you could know what it’s really supposed to feel like” 

In the report, the victim says she tried to brush it off and go to sleep. Westerman did not address the incident when he dropped her off at her hotel the next day. Westerman claimed he did not recall the incident in an interview with investigators.

However, the emails with the romantic connotations continued into early 2012. That’s when the victim started to distance herself from Westerman, who according to the report, “started getting irritated” about it.

The victim described Westerman as one who has a “big personality” and “usually disregards boundaries. He likes to come out as empathetic, and people in the community either love him or think, ‘there’s something weird or wrong with him.’ He’s a boundary pusher.”

The report says the victim came forward in February 2018 because Westerman contacted her about reaching out to people at MSU’s Sexual Assault Program and Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program. She felt, given the harassment she experienced, she did not feel he was the appropriate person to work on the problem with sexual assault at MSU.

According to the report, the victim says she was concerned about sharing her story because Westerman was a public figure, adding “I was flattered and excited he took an interest in me, but now it’s all a source of stress.”

In an interview with Title IX investigators, Westerman says he had a “parental” relationship with the victim, and said he was very careful about how he communicated with her due to his “extensive training in identifying sexual harassment,” both from his roles as CEO of Comcast and at MSU. 

Westerman denied his relationship with the victim turned romantic, and claimed he was “impressed by the way she was surviving at MSU, and wanted to support her.” When asked about the emails involving sex and relationships, he said he was sharing advice. He also claimed the “LYNMW” email was sent because the victim was going through a painful break-up, and said “things in there are reassuring on her values as a person…It was never saying I want to have an inappropriate relationship with her.”

6 News has reached out to Westerman and MSU for comment.

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