Saturday, January 14, 2017

Like a zombie rising from the grave, this scandal refuses to die

Many universities have sexual assault scandals. Many have sexual harassment scandals. But how many of them manage to turn those scandals into a non-stop horror highlight reel?  For that, you need real public relations expertise. (Could this be why the U's former PR chief, Dan Wolter, is vice-chair of the advisory council that is choosing Regents for the legislature?)

The latest episode features Regent candidate Jim Carter, a former Gopher football player and vocal critic of the U administration who backed the football team during its ill-advised boycott threat. Earlier this week, The Pioneer Press reported that Carter sexually harassed a woman in the 1970s, when he was playing for the Green Bay Packers. (Specifically, reports said that a "receptionist sued Carter and the Packers, alleging the linebacker exposed himself to her in her work area, then 'blocked her exit with athletic shorts at his ankles.'”) Today the Star Tribune reports that Carter is accusing U leaders of orchestrating a campaign to discredit him.  

Jim Carter, a finalist for the University of Minnesota’s governing board, is accusing U leaders of trying to scuttle his candidacy after Twin Cities reporters received anonymous letters about a 1976 sexual harassment lawsuit against the former Green Bay Packer and his team.

Carter, one of three finalists for a vacancy in the Second Congressional District, said he has no evidence that University President Eric Kaler’s administration was involved in what he described as a smear campaign against him.

The letters included news clipping copies about an incident in which Carter exposed himself to a team receptionist and asked for oral sex. They promise to complicate Carter’s Board of Regents candidacy on the heels of the suspensions of Gophers football players involved in a sexual assault investigation and the firing of their coach — a highly publicized episode whose handling Carter has vocally criticized.

“I have no reason not to believe that President Kaler and his administration are not involved in this,” said Carter, a former Gopher.

This scandal is not dead. No PR flack can kill it. It is staggering towards Morrill Hall, drooling, eyes glazed, like an over-served athletic director. It is scraping its nails against the window. 

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