[media-credit name=’JOSEPH LEUTE/Herald Photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′][/media-credit]Paul Barrows fought hard Monday to reclaim his good name after a series of sexual-harassment allegations plagued the University of Wisconsin administrator this past summer.
Barrows, who formerly served as the school's vice chancellor for student affairs, is appealing a publicized letter of reprimand from since-retired Provost Peter Spear, which, among other things, retroactively replaced 92 hours of sick leave taken by Barrows with 92 hours of vacation time.
The UW Academic Staff Appeals Committee heard testimony Monday from former Dane County Judge Susan Steingass, who authored an investigative report into Barrows' alleged misconduct.
In her report, Steingass outlined sexual-harassment allegations toward several women on campus and, in her testimony, stood behind the consistency of the accuser's stories.
"I was convinced that while these women saw things one way, [Barrows] may have seen them differently," Steingass said of Barrows' behavior. "All of [the women] were very reluctant to speak."
Chandrika Mahadeva, one of the women identified in the Steingass report, said during her testimony that the report was "quite accurate" and "relates exactly" what she told Steingass.
Additionally, Mahadeva said she finally filed a formal written complaint against Barrows before testifying to the committee Monday.
She described for the committee eight incidents starting in January 2002, in which she reported Barrows inappropriately gazed at her and interacted with her, including saying he was "checking it out" while she was working.
Mahadeva also said Barrows once followed her on State Street near the Diversity Education Program office where she worked. She said she thought he was going to grab her.
"I thought, you know, I'm blocked. … I was scared," she said, adding she ducked into a shop to seek shelter.
But Barrows, who testified later, said he could not identify Mahadeva at the hearing, having only had contact with her years before when she was employed at the DEP.
He denied acting inappropriately with her and refuted allegations that he was "stalking" her on State Street, noting he never wore the type of clothing Mahadeva described him wearing.
Barrows' attorney Lester Pines, in an interview during recess, also refuted Mahadeva's testimony, noting there was no "sexualized conduct" occurring between her and Barrows.
"Every single thing [Mahadeva] described — there were supposedly her colleagues and other witnesses around, [but] not a single person will corroborate one thing she said," Pines added.
Pines also said Steingass only briefly spoke with Mahadeva on the phone when compiling her report, which Steingass conceded was "regrettable."
Additionally, she said she never told Barrows of Mahadeva's particular allegations or who it was that made the allegations.
Spear, sitting Monday with university attorney Nancy Lynch, said the names of the women were not relevant to notifying Barrows of the allegations. Spear said he considered "very carefully" whether to contact the women personally when he received an un-redacted version of Steingass' report.
Barrows claimed that had he known it was Mahadeva making the State Street and other allegations, he could have discussed the personnel issues and tensions in the DEP with Steingass.
Spear disagreed, however, saying when Barrows refuted the sexual-harassment allegations to him he knew the events and "specifically denied them," regardless of the women's names. Spear also said Barrows told him he thought the behaviors reported were inappropriate.
The appeals committee also heard testimony from Sara Fuller, a former undergraduate employee in the associate vice chancellor's office who was included in the Steingass report.
Fuller told the committee Barrows asked her out to dinner about 10 times and noted there was a "very specific difference" in his behavior when he was alone with her in the office. She never accepted the invitations and called his demeanor "very inappropriate." Fuller said she regrets not filing a complaint.
Barrows said he was unaware his behavior was such.
Fuller also described a chance meeting when she and Barrows met in a Detroit airport after their Madison flight was delayed. Fuller said Barrows asked her to dinner and to sit next to her in the airplane.
Barrows denied the allegations, and Fuller said she did not accept either offer. Strangely, however, neither said they could remember whether Barrows drove Fuller home from the airport in Madison.
In his testimony, Spear referred to the associate vice chancellor's office as a "hostile" work environment.
"[Barrows] didn't seem to understand the impact on people," Spear said, adding he thought it was important for Barrows to receive sexual-assault training.
But Barrows, who claimed to have no sexual interest in Fuller, said if she were uncomfortable he would have liked to know.
"I'm sorry about that. … I wish someone would have called that to my attention," he said.
Barrows' testimony ended a hearing that lasted more than eight hours.
The committee, which will hear more testimony today, plans to make a recommendation to Provost Patrick Farrell later this week on the matter.