Two members of President Eric Kaler’s senior leadership team have identified themselves as the complainants in a sexual harassment case that triggered last week’s abrupt resignation of University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague.
Erin Dady, who is special assistant to the president, was formerly a chief of staff to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Ann Aronson is a deputy chief of staff in Kaler’s office.
“We are the two women who filed the initial complaints of sexual harassment and assault by Norwood Teague,” they said in a statement released Thursday.
They said that Teague was “a colleague of ours” on the presidential leadership team and that they felt compelled to report his behavior “because it was frightening and wrong. We believed there would be others, and we felt a duty to help protect them.”
Teague, 49, resigned from the university last Friday amid reports that he had groped and sexually harassed two women, who were not publicly identified at the time. He apologized for what he called his “offensive behavior,” which included sending offensive text messages to one of the victims.
The university also disclosed a timeline Thursday that showed that Teague’s fall unfolded over a two-week period, starting with a senior leadership retreat on Wednesday, July 15.
According to the timeline, both incidents of sexual harassment occurred on July 15, at the end of the first day of the retreat. The two women reported the harassment to President Kaler’s office the next day, and Kaler met with Teague that Friday, July 17. Over the next week, the two victims were interviewed separately, and gave detailed statements about the incidents to the U’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
Kaler notified Teague on Monday, July 27, that the university planned to hire an outside investigator to conduct a formal investigation. The following Saturday, Aug. 1, Teague told Kaler that he intended to resign.
Teague waited until Thursday, Aug. 6, to submit his resignation. It was announced publicly that Friday.
The women said they originally had intended to keep their identities confidential, noting: “It is difficult to report sexual harassment and assault and endure a public examination that includes speculative news coverage.”
But they said they changed their minds about revealing their names after Teague circulated e-mails that stirred speculation about their identities.
“Unfortunately, Teague has sent an e-mail inside and outside of the U of M community, disclosing that these incidents of unwelcome sexual advances and verbal and physical sexual misconduct occurred at a University of Minnesota senior leadership retreat,” they wrote.
“With only a dozen women having attended the retreat, our identities have been rumored and speculated about. And some members of the media have sought to discover who we are.
“We therefore decided to reveal our identities ourselves, today, in this public statement. We ask you to respect our privacy and the privacy of others who decide to take such action.”
Aronson, who was named Kaler’s deputy chief of staff in October 2014, is also the U’s chief marketing officer. She is credited with leading its “Driven to Discover” campaign.
Dady joined Kaler’s leadership team in January, and is the U’s chief lobbyist.
As Coleman’s former chief of staff, she helped bring the 2008 Republican National Convention to St. Paul and also helped the city win $25 million in public funding for the Saints stadium in Lowertown.
Kaler applauds the women
Kaler released a brief statement, saying: “I applaud the courageousness of Ann and Erin in this very difficult situation. They have placed their own personal privacy at risk to prevent this from happening to others. They and anyone who bravely faced sexual harassment and assault should be supported and considered role models by all of us.”
In announcing his resignation, Teague said that he had “entirely too much to drink” at the event and that his behavior did not reflect his true character. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The women, who declined to be interviewed, challenged the implication that alcohol was to blame.
“Sexual harassment is a predatory act. Having too much to drink does not excuse it,” they said. “It’s a problem that continues to plague our institutions and our working lives despite programs and training designed to suppress it. The only way to eliminate it is to call attention to it when you see it or experience it.
“In sharing our story today, we hope to make it easier for those who experience sexual harassment and assault to come forward. We stand with them.”
Earlier this week, Star Tribune reporter Amelia Rayno disclosed in a first-person account that she, too, had been sexually harassed by Teague. That occurred in 2013.
The decision to go public in this type of situation is “a very difficult personal choice,” said Katie Eichele, director of the U’s Aurora Center, which assists victims of sexual harassment and assault.
“It’s such a personal choice, because there are definitely risks,” she said, including possible harassment. At the same time, she added, it can be part of the healing process “to stand up and say, ‘This was wrong.’ Some people choose to do that, and some people don’t. And both are OK.”
Staff writer Brandon Stahl contributed to this article.