November 15, 2018
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UMaine English professor placed on paid leave for second time this year

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
People walk around on the University of Maine campus in Orono.

A University of Maine English professor who was placed on paid leave over sexual harassment allegations during the winter and spring will also sit out this semester while university officials conduct a separate investigation into his conduct, a UMaine spokeswoman said.

The university’s human resources department has been probing allegations of misconduct against Tony Brinkley, who was also investigated earlier this year by the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity after two female graduate students filed sexual harassment complaints. No new allegations have been filed, UMaine spokeswoman Margaret Nagle said.

Brinkley was previously placed on paid leave in January, and barred from teaching courses and visiting campus. The university allowed him to return in June when it determined that he did not create a hostile work environment through sexual harassment or discrimination based on sex, though it forwarded to the HR department a complaint that he failed to report an incident confided to him by one of the two female students.

The university later that summer put him back on leave because of the ongoing HR investigation, though Nagle declined to elaborate on its decision.

The current probe is focused on “portions of student complaints which were not addressed in the EO [Equal Opportunity] investigation, including allegations of unprofessional conduct,” Kenda Scheele, assistant vice president for Student Life, wrote in a July 27 letter to one of the two female complainants, which was obtained by the BDN.

“There may be immediate and longer-term consequences of this fact finding,” Scheele said.

Brinkley, who has repeatedly declined to speak on the record throughout the process, issued a short statement Thursday.

“This has been going on for nine months. After a thorough investigation, I was very pleased to have been cleared by the University of Maine System’s Equal Opportunity investigator. Now, I’m waiting to see what’s next,” he said.

The HR investigations are still underway, both for Brinkley and professor Tom Mikotowicz, Nagle said Tuesday. Mikotowicz, a professor of theater, was also on paid leave last semester while the university looked into concerns raised by multiple students. He was cleared in May and has returned to teaching.

Brinkley, who has taught at UMaine since 1983, made $90,475 in 2017. From 1999 to 2004, he chaired the English department. He teaches courses in English, romantic poetry, Renaissance poetry, critical theory, fascist studies, translation studies and film.

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