Former UWL Professor Joel Elgin’s lawyer releases statement

Photo+by+Kayleigh+Marshall.+

Photo by Kayleigh Marshall.

Sam Stroozas, Managing Editor

TW: This article contains allegations of sexual misconduct.

Joel Elgin, former Chair of the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse resigned on Tuesday, Dec. 10. On Sept. 4, Elgin was accused of sexual misconduct against a UWL student via social media. On Sept. 17 the student and her legal team released a personal statement regarding sexual misconduct.

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, Elgin’s attorney Cheryl Gill released a statement on behalf of Elgin saying that he became a victim in this process and decided not to meet with Chancellor Gow because his sick leave was at risk, and that UWL faculty should be afraid of other students making “bogus claims.”

In the statement, Gill said that in Elgin’s 20 years plus of teaching at UWL, 99.9 of students had no complaints about Elgin or his teaching methods. Gill said, “Indeed, Professor Elgin consistently received glowing reviews from his art students. Now, just one student, along with her minions, has ‘canceled’ Professor Elgin, his career and his reputation. This student continued to take classes from Professor Elgin after the alleged incident (which allegedly happened four (4) years before her complaint) despite the availability of other art professors and other art classes. During that time, Professor Elgin had no power over her or her grades in other courses.”

Gill then said in the statement that UWL did not find evidence to support the student’s claim, but because the student was unhappy with the findings, another investigation began. “Professor Elgin participated by spending several hours answering questions and claims asked by the University investigators, who were not independent. Despite his complete cooperation, most of Professor Elgin’s responses were ignored and not included in the report to Chancellor Gow. The report is anything but fair, balanced and independent,” said Gill.

According to an email sent out from Chancellor Gow, on Tuesday, Dec. 10, Elgin was scheduled to meet with Gow about the allegations but instead resigned. Gill claims that this was not the case. “Professor Elgin was prepared to talk with Chancellor Gow and to go to a University faculty tribunal to address the student’s charges when the University system’s attorney advised that Professor Elgin’s accumulated sick leave was at risk. That accumulated sick leave could be used to purchase health care coverage upon retirement and was worth thousands of dollars. Despite Professor Elgin’s desire to clear his name and reputation, he could not put his family’s economic future at risk. Thus, he decided to retire. Meeting with Chancellor Gow would have been pointless. Professor Elgin was not afraid to meet with him as Chancellor Gow implied in his email to students. Nor was he afraid to go to a hearing,” said Gill.

Gill said that the majority of Elgin’s past and current students stand behind him. “Unfortunately, they are afraid to say anything publicly in case they get “canceled” too. The “cancel culture” is so robust that at least one student was heard declaring that she would lie to get an “abuser” out of the University. This incident has been reported to the University. The question has to be asked, though: how many other students feel the same way,” said Gill.

Gill ends with a warning in her statement to all UWL professors. “Faculty should be afraid, very afraid. A student could make a bogus claim at any time and, unless you have video, the deck is stacked against you. The University appears to want fairness but, in the end, it will cave to a persistent complainant and/or threaten to eliminate economic benefits that were earned from years of work. While complaints of sexual misconduct should be investigated thoroughly, the credibility of the alleged harasser and the complainant should be considered. That wasn’t done in this case. And it probably won’t be done in the future,” said Gill.

 

Statement retrieved from the La Crosse Tribune.
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