By DAVE COLLINS
HARTFORD, Conn. — A University of Connecticut music professor who was placed on paid leave last month is under investigation by police amid allegations of sexual misconduct and decades-old molestation involving children, including several boys who attended a camp for sick children.
UConn officials said this morning they were cooperating with the investigations. They also announced the creation of a special Board of Trustees committee to review the university’s responses to the allegations against Robert Miller, 66, of Mansfield.
University employees were notified several times between 2006 and 2011 of allegations that Miller had sexual contact with children, but it wasn’t until February of this year that school administrators were told of the claims, according to UConn officials and the state attorney general’s office. And it wasn’t until June 21 that Miller was placed on paid administrative leave.
It was also revealed today that the attorney general’s office is seeking bids from a law firm to advise and represent UConn’s Board of Trustees and that UConn has hired a private investigator.
Miller was barred from the Storrs campus after being placed on leave. He hasn’t been charged with any crime. He did not return several phone messages left at his home by The Associated Press.
Last month, a faculty member told a university official that a student alleged that Miller had sex with UConn students, visited freshmen dorms and provided drugs to students, according to the state attorney general’s office. It’s not clear when those alleged actions took place. Miller has worked at UConn for three decades and was head of the Music Department from 1999 to 2003.
Miller also has been under investigation by Connecticut state police and authorities in Fairfax County, Va., following allegations that he molested five boys, who ranged in age from 10 to 13 years old, more than two decades ago, according to a state police search warrant affidavit for Miller’s home that was obtained by the AP.
State police say four of the boys claimed they were molested at Miller’s home in 1992. The boys at the time were attending the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, a camp that actor Paul Newman opened in 1988 for sick children. The alleged abuse happened when Miller, who was a counselor there from 1989 to 1992, took the children away from the camp on unsanctioned trips, authorities said.
State police said Fairfax County police are investigating allegations that Miller molested a 13-year-old boy while he was a teacher at the former Whittier Intermediate School near Falls Church in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Officer Eddy Azcarate, a spokesman for Fairfax County police, confirmed that his agency is investigating allegations involving the intermediate school student.
All the allegations involve inappropriate touching. State police say the accusers at the camp allege that they stayed overnight at Miller’s house several times and he often would make them take off their clothes, saying he had to check them for ticks and bruises. All the boys suffered from hemophilia, a bleeding disorder in which the blood doesn’t clot normally, state police said.
Connecticut state police said they can’t charge Miller in the child molestation investigation because the statute of limitations for the allegations has expired, but it hasn’t expired for the Virginia allegations. State police are helping Fairfax County authorities with their investigation. UConn officials also are investigating the allegations involving university students.
State police executed a search warrant at Miller’s home on June 20 to take photos of the interior and exterior to try to corroborate a description of the house by one of the Connecticut accusers, who is a potential witness in the Virginia case, the search warrant affidavit said. The same day, UConn seized Miller’s work computer, officials said.
UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement that university officials acted quickly after they first learned of the investigations of Miller earlier this year.
“Allegations involving crimes against children are both profoundly disturbing and heartbreaking,” Herbst said. “Any accusation of sexual misconduct by faculty, staff, or students is among the gravest issues that any institution must face. It is clear that serious accusations have been made, questions that demand answers have been raised, and we will do all we can to find the truth and protect the vulnerable.”
University officials released a timeline of events involving Miller saying that the School of Fine Arts received an email and letter in December 2011 claiming that Miller was a pedophile. State police say the accuser in Virginia sent the email and letter. UConn employees also were told several times between 2006 and 2011 about allegations involving Miller and children, the attorney general’s office said.
But it wasn’t until Feb. 13, 2013, that an unnamed employee of the School of Fine Arts brought the letter to the attention of the new dean of the school. The next day, UConn officials told campus police and an assistant state attorney general based at UConn.
Officials didn’t have the information they needed to place Miller on leave until they received the state police search warrant affidavit last month, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said.
UConn police formally opened an investigation on Feb. 18 and contacted a state prosecutor the next day, officials said.
On June 27, senior university administrators met and agreed to recommend to Herbst that the school should conduct internal and personnel investigations into Miller, officials said. The investigations will center on when school employees learned of the allegations and how they responded to them.
Senior staff met with Herbst on June 28, and she directed officials to begin the investigations, seek an outside investigator to assist in the probes and seek an outside law firm to review the university’s actions and coordinate the investigations.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp released a statement that didn’t mention Miller by name but said it was aware of the investigation of a former staff member who was affiliated with the camp from 1989 to 1992, the same years Miller worked there. It declined further comment.
State police say the parents of the boys who attended the camp and allege they were molested by Miller found out about the accusations and told camp officials, who then fired Miller. A mother of one of the boys told state police that she and the other boys’ parents told camp officials about the allegations but didn’t tell police at the time.