PSU scandal shaped response to Chadima

MILWAUKEE — The Penn State scandal certainly caught the attention of officials at Wisconsin, compelling them to review and reinforce protocols for reporting sexual assaults and think about how they might handle a scandal of their own.

It didn't take long.

According to a report released by the school Tuesday night, a male student employee accused athletic department official John Chadima of grabbing his genitals at an alcohol-fueled party while the team was at the Rose Bowl. Chadima has resigned and issued an apology without acknowledging the specific allegations in the report.

Wisconsin vice chancellor for university relations Vince Sweeney said Wednesday that school officials spent time discussing the situation at Penn State, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually assaulting young boys for years.

The discussions may have left Wisconsin better prepared to handle the Chadima situation than they would have been a year ago, he said.

"There's no question there's a different environment in which we live," Sweeney said.

Sweeney said the school now is reviewing its policies on the availability of alcohol at off-campus university events. Officials also will try to clarify procedures for reporting incidents of sexual misconduct to avoid confusion.

"It worked, and it worked very well, but there's room for improvement," Sweeney said.

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez issued a statement Wednesday night, saying he was disappointed in Chadima's "highly inappropriate" behavior.

"I am pleased that the review team found that our athletic department staff acted appropriately and swiftly in reporting the allegation," Alvarez said. "We have stressed to our employees the importance of reporting any allegations or incidents that involve staff members or occur in our facilities and I am glad the proper action was taken. I also commend our staff for their continued support of the individual who brought this allegation forward."

Alvarez disputed one finding of the Chadima report, which said he was aware of the party Chadima was hosting.

"I did not know that some of our student employees were involved," Alvarez said. "That is unacceptable and our staff will be educated about the inappropriateness of such behavior."

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Dec. 31; the school placed Chadima on administrative leave on Jan. 6 and he resigned later that day. Chadima apologized in a statement and said alcohol "had controlled and consumed my life."

Although it took nearly a week for officials to report the incident to the highest levels of the school's administration, an independent panel called the school's response "nearly a model of how we might hope all such cases would be handled."

According to the review, the delay in reporting the incident came in part because the student didn't want to cause a distraction before the Jan. 2 game.

Sweeney said the student was not pressured to keep his allegations quiet for the sake of the football team, and officials did the right thing by complying with the student's wishes not to take action until after the Rose Bowl.

"Absolutely," Sweeney said. "They got that right."

While the report generally praises officials for their response, it also recommends that the school work to "make it clear what must be reported and when" and resolve confusion about when somebody reporting a sexual assault is guaranteed confidentiality.

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