October 25, 2006

BOARD STATEMENT: There Were Other Victims

Following the regular monthly meeting of the Johnson County Community College board of trustees Oct. 19, the JCCC board met for more than four hours in executive session with Betsy Badger and Theresa Levings.
At the end of the session, the board voted 4-1 (Lynn Mitchelson, Jon Stewart, Virginia Krebs and Ben Hodge voted "Yes." Shirley Brown-Van Arsdale was absent. Elaine Perilla voted "No") to release the following statement:

The Board is grateful for the voluntary participation of so many in the recent independent review. The review process was designed to encourage open communication during interviews so that the Board could learn the concerns of JCCC employees, take corrective action where needed and move the college forward. We appreciate the efforts of the many people who assisted in achieving this.
Now that the investigative portion of the review has concluded, the Board wants to reiterate its commitment to protect the identity of the persons who participated in the review and to keep personnel matters as private as possible.
The Board does not want to betray those who participated in the review by revealing their names or the personnel matters they reported, but the Board is listening to what they had to say.
The Board also remains firm in its resolve that there will be no retaliation against those who came forward in good faith to participate in the review.
Concerning Ms. Lee’s public allegation that she gave her written narrative in 2004 to Elaine Perilla and told Ms. Perilla then about her allegations against Dr. Carlsen, Ms. Lee and Ms. Perilla disagree about whether these events occurred.
Ms. Lee did not claim that any other Board member had knowledge of her claims, and the five other Board members state that they had no such knowledge.
Any Board member is free to make a public comment about his or her personal knowledge on this subject.
The Board also wants to address questions about the cost of the review.
The 12-page report released to the public is the only written report and represents only a small part of the work done.
As the report states, Badger & Levings’ engagement included “legal analysis, advice and review of other personnel and policy matters.”
Some of the matters that are not included in the 12-page report are details of allegations by other women regarding Dr. Carlsen.
A few women interviewed during the review said that at various times during the approximate period of the late 1990s to early 2005 Dr. Carlsen touched them in a manner similar to that alleged by Teresa Lee.
They said that they concluded that the conduct was not inadvertent or accidental because it was repeated.
A few other women confirmed what they called inappropriate conduct by Carlsen during this same time period but declined to specifically describe the conduct or answer other specific questions about it.
Some of those interviewed provided second-hand information about other women believed to have been the object of inappropriate conduct by Carlsen.
Three of the women identified denied any improper conduct by Dr. Carlsen toward them.
One declined to speak with Badger & Levings, and Badger & Levings was not able to obtain more information about the others.
In addition, another woman said that there were times when Dr. Carlsen stood behind her while she was at her computer and that when he reached over her toward the computer, his arm touched her breast.
Another woman said that she specifically remembered two occasions where Dr. Carlsen stood too close to her and that, upon learning of Ms. Lee’s allegations in early 2004, the woman thereafter avoided being in situations where he could get close to her.
Another woman said Dr. Carlsen gave her a hug on one occasion that was too close and too long. She said she moved back from Dr. Carlsen because he had made her uncomfortable.
Dr. Carlsen cancelled a scheduled interview and ended his participation in the review before Badger & Levings had the chance to ask him about these other allegations.
All these women reported that the conduct occurred during their employment at JCCC.
Their allegations had never been reported to the college under the college procedure or as a legal claim against the college.
Some said they were willing to disclose their own experiences because they did not want Lee to be, as one said, “out there by herself.”
The Board sincerely regrets that it learned about these serious allegations so long after the time the conduct is alleged to have occurred.
Furthermore, the Board is fully committed to supporting the administration in addressing any issues which negatively affect the college’s working or learning environment.
While some may want to know more about the review, the Board is determined to keep details about personnel matters and the identity of those who reported about them as private as possible.
The Board has spent many hours meeting with Badger & Levings during and after the review and will continue to meet with them for as long as it takes to identify any issues that need to be addressed.
Dr. Tyree is an active participant in that process and the Board is grateful for his counsel and the wisdom of his experience.
While this effort required substantial human and monetary resources, we believe the investment is justified and will continue to have value for years to come.