Report: Alvarez, Bielema shocked by Chadima case

Posted March 16, 2012, at 6:46 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. — Top athletic officials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison were shocked when allegations of sexual impropriety surfaced against a then-assistant athletic director, according to an investigative report released Friday.

Athletic director Barry Alvarez and coach Bret Bielema never had reason to suspect John Chadima of sexual impropriety, abuse of power or alcohol abuse, the report quoted them as saying.

Chadima was suspended and resigned in January after a male student employee accused him of sexual assault at a pre-Rose Bowl party in December. Friday’s report details similar allegations from two more people — a former Wisconsin football player and another former male student worker.

The report was the second from former Dane County Circuit Judge Patrick Fiedler. Both detail allegations of Chadima fondling males and making sexually suggestive comments. He has not been charged with a crime and Dane County district attorney Ismael Ozanne said to his knowledge, investigators had not referred a request for charges to his office.

Chadima was with the university for about 20 years, in roles that included managing capital projects and supervising staff members. He also served as the school’s director of football operations from 1990 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2003.

Chadima’s troubles began after a male student employee accused him of putting his hand inside the student’s pants and touching his genitals. Fiedler’s first report said Chadima provided alcohol purchased with university athletic department gift funds. Some of the people at the party were under the legal drinking age.

After that report was released, two other people came forward with similar allegations.

One, a former UW-Madison football player, said he was in town for a Wisconsin game and had some drinks with Chadima and others. He said the group planned to meet other friends downtown, but instead of driving him there, Chadima insisted on taking him to Chadima’s house.

On the way, Chadima allegedly speculated on the size of the former player’s penis and complimented the man’s buttocks, causing the ex-player to go on “high alert.” Once at Chadima’s home, the comments allegedly continued and the player locked himself in a bathroom for several hours until Chadima apparently passed out, the report said.

Chadima’s attorney, Charles Giesen, said it was “implausible” to believe that a 20-something former college football player “would cower and lock himself in a bathroom because of a claimed fear” of a 5-foot-9, 170-pound, 45-year-old man who was supposedly drunk.

“It is regrettable that the university has given the weight it did to these anonymous allegations,” Giesen said.

The other allegation was from a second former student employee. He said he was in Chadima’s suite for a party at an unspecified Wisconsin bowl game, when Chadima alleged groped his buttocks through his pants. Chadima also allegedly made comments hinting that he and the student could have fun in Chadima’s hotel room at upcoming road games.

Giesen faulted Fiedler’s reports for including only negative information about Chadima. The attorney released 10 letters of support written by Chadima’s former colleagues and employees. The letters described Chadima as a mentor and role model, and the authors say he has their unwavering support.

In a statement released through his lawyer, Chadima said he has “struggled to address anonymous allegations of matters about which I have no specific recollection.” He said the outpouring of support he has received from family and friends has been overwhelming, and it fueled his commitment to seek counseling for alcohol use.

David Ward, Wisconsin’s interim chancellor, said says the two reports reinforce his belief that suspending Chadima was proper.

“It is clear to me that our decision to remove Mr. Chadima from his workplace and conduct independent investigations was the prudent course of action,” he said.

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