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UW-Milwaukee students uncover allegations of sexual harassment by staff

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Student journalists in the UW System have uncovered a surprising number of claims of sexual assault and harassment on the Milwaukee campus. 

UW-Milwaukee student journalist Talis Shelbourne and her colleagues at MediaMilwaukee.com uncovered 40 allegations of sexual assault and harassment by 37 professors and staff members. Shelbourne says it's disturbing. 

"I don't want to be alone in an office with a professor who has a history of sexual harassment or something like that," Shelbourne said. "I think it's important to know those things, so we can avoid dangerous situations."

UW-M officials say they've investigated the cases dating back to 2013 and found 11 violations. The students say they want more details and the university is working on those requests. 

"We want people to know this behavior's not acceptable, we want them to report it and we are going to deal with it," said Michelle Johnson, a spokesperson for the university.

At UW-Madison, officials say they investigated two sexual harassment complaints against university employees last year. One employee was fired and the other case is still pending.

In 2016, one case led to a warning issued against a staff member and one was unfounded. Five cases were found to not be policy violations, but staff members involved had to go through special training programs. 

Those UW-Madison numbers do not include allegations where the accuser declined a formal investigation. 

According to statistics from the UW System, Madison has the highest number of cases of sexual assaults on students, but also the highest enrollment. In 2016 there were 36 on campus assaults and 289 off campus incidents, but those do not necessarily involve campus staff. Milwaukee had 11 on campus assaults and 81 off campus incidents. 

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