LANSING, Mich. — A Central Michigan University investigation has found no evidence that two faculty members and one other university employee knew about inappropriate behavior at Vanguard Public Affairs in Lansing when they sent students to intern there.
“We felt it was necessary to work with an outside investigator, an independent investigator that will follow through on what did Central Michigan University faculty and staff know,” said CMU President Bob Davies.
Vanguard Public Affairs' owner, political consultant T.J. Bucholz, was accused of sexually harassing female employees this past spring. The three CMU employees were placed on leave after they were accused of knowing about Bucholz's behavior and sending students anyhow. They have since been allowed to return to work.
“There were very serious accusations that members of CMU's Faculty and staff may have known about sexual harassment, toxic work environment and human trafficking was also alleged,” Davies said.
It was alleged that students in the investigation went to at least one of the three employees and told them about the inappropriate behavior, but no action was taken, but the investigation found that the reports didn't mention the sexual nature of Bucholz's behavior.
The university spent around $550,000 on the external investigation, which looked at evidence from 2016 to 2019.
“We chose the Honigman Law firm because of their great reputation and we worked with Matthew Schinder, who is a former prosecutor and district attorney,” Davies said.
According to the investigation document, Schneider interviewed 53 people, including male and female students who interned at Vanguard or have worked there before.
Schneider also said he reviewed around 42,000 electronic documents and thousands of hard copy documents.
“We knew that with this source we would be able to seek the truth, and that’s what the investigation was about,” Davies said.
The investigation found no evidence that anyone at CMU knowingly encouraged or knew about a dangerous and harassing work environment at Vanguard.
Now, Davies said he’s focusing on student’s safety and supporting his staff
“I know it was hard on them and it was proven that they were cleared, but this is not them and this is not their ethics or what they do,” Davies said.
Bucholz did not respond to requests for comment.