A former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student who alleged that the school acted with “deliberate indifference” to sexual harassment by an art professor will reportedly receive a $325,000 settlement from the school.
Identified only as A.R. in court documents, the student filed an 18-page federal complaint in October 2018 that claimed the school failed to take action against former art professor Michael Beitz, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported. She sought compensation in the form of unspecified damages for physical and psychological injuries, in addition to medical and educational expenses.
A.R.’s lawsuit claimed that she began a consensual relationship with Beitz in 2012 but that when she tried to end the relationship a year later, Beitz began to sexually and emotionally abuse her by trying to kiss her without consent, coercing sex, and then pushing her to take the morning after pill.
The former student said in her lawsuit that Beitz engaged in “intimidating and degrading” behavior toward her, including vandalizing one of her art pieces by taking a plaster bust of her head, drilling holes in the ears and the mouth, having sexual intercourse with the bust, and then ejaculating into it, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also claims that Beitz drew a picture of A.R. while she slept and then ejaculated onto it and showed it to her.
Beitz told A.R., according to a 2015 report from the university obtained by the Journal Sentinel, that he’d searched an entire building for her after smelling her perfume; he even allegedly stored nude photos on his phone in order to coerce her into sexual conversations.
The university's investigation into the matter in 2015 concluded that Beitz violated the school’s sexual harassment and consensual relationship policies.
He resigned from his post in June 2015 but secured a new tenure-track assistant professorship at the University of Colorado-Boulder just two months afterward, the Journal Sentinel reported. When a local newspaper began asking questions, the university started a review of Beitz’s history.
“I appreciate and value the special role of a professor in the university community,” Beitz wrote in a statement at the time to the Boulder, CO Daily Camera. “The responsibility is an important one, one that I take seriously and work to uphold.
Beitz resigned from his Colorado position in May 2019, according to CU-Boulder spokesman Ryan Huff.
After reaching its settlement, UW System spokesman Mark Pitsch told the Journal Sentinel that the university’s resolution with A.R. is “in the best interest of taxpayers and the university.”
“The matter between A.R. and Michael Beitz is settled,” said Beitz’s attorney, Jason D. Luczak. “The case has been dismissed with prejudice. Litigation is costly, and Mr. Beitz decided it was in his best interest to pay an amount of money to settle this matter instead of further embarking on costly litigation. Mr. Beitz did not make an admission of liability as part of the settlement agreement. Mr. Beitz is no longer teaching.”
A.R.’s attorneys did not immediately responded to requests for comment from The Daily Beast on Monday.