Woman who filed harassment complaint about MSU Alumni head comes forward

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The woman who filed a complaint against the former head of the MSU Alumni Association is speaking out.

Elizabeth Battiste says she was the woman who filed the report against Scott Westerman.

A report by Michigan State University made public on Wednesday found that the former head of the MSU Alumni Association engaged in “severe, persistent and pervasive unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” against Battiste.

6 News does not normally name victims of sexual assault or harassment without their consent, but Elizabeth Battiste granted that permission Thursday afternoon.

She says she want to speak out so that other people who are the victim of sexual harassment or assault find the strength to report their experiences.

“I was subjected to inappropriate communication of a sexual nature during my time at the MSU Alumni Association,” she wrote in an e-mail to 6 News. “I want to make sure that other young women – and men – understand that they deserve to have their voices heard when their boundaries are violated.”

Too often we take this as a fact of life,” she wrote, “and I want others to know that their story is important and holding people accountable can make a huge difference.”

Battiste, who also used to volunteer with MSU’s Sexual Assault Program, now works in Lansing.

The report by MSU described the relationship between Westerman and Battiste as friendly, initially. But the report says some of Westerman’s communication eventually was of a sexual nature, and that he propositioned her in a hotel room in 2011.

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

“I know that what happened to me happens far too often,” Battiste told 6 News. “It was important to report my experience to the University to ensure it would not be repeated and to encourage other members of the community to come forward with their story so that appropriate action can be taken.”

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. 

At the time, he told 6 News that he was “recently surprised to learn that I am the subject of an OIE [the Office of Institutional Equity] inquiry. It covers a brief period near the start of my tenure, is not a police matter, and naturally, I am fully cooperating with with investigators.

He had led the Alumni Association for 10 years. He moved to Florida, a move he said was planned before word of the investigation broke.

He has not responded to 6 News requests for comment since the report was released on Wednesday.

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