University police officer faces sexual harassment allegations
August 30, 2019
Veteran University Police Officer Brian Tison has been placed on leave since Aug. 5 after new allegations came forward of sexual harassment and misconduct from 2015 and 2018, according to a recent article from The News-Gazette.
The article reported separate complaints against Tison were filed earlier this year and are still being investigated by an outside attorney.
Without providing further details, Police Chief Craig Stone confirmed in a statement to The Gazette that the latest allegation is under formal review by the department and the University’s Office of Access and Equity, which investigates Title IX sexual-harassment allegations.
Another misconduct investigation from 2017 through 2018 was prompted by complaints from a female officer who Tison trained. The officer accused Tison of giving unwanted hugs, suggestive remarks and inappropriately touching her and other female recruits under his training.
In a July 2018 report, the University’s Title IX office concluded that, while Tison’s behavior was highly unprofessional and inappropriate, it wasn’t severe or pervasive enough to negatively impact the officers’ job performance or work environment.
The University’s strict standard for what constitutes sexual harassment is currently under review by campus officials.
Under recommendation from the investigator, Stone took unspecified corrective action against Tison and stopped him from supervising recruits in July 2018.
In response to the original complaint last fall, Tison emphasized the investigation’s findings that he did not violate sexual misconduct policy and that only one officer had filed a complaint.
In the 2017-2018 report, Tison said he described himself as “touchy-feely person who likes to hug” to the officer, who he considered a friend and treated in a way consistent with other male and female officers, and that she didn’t object.
In response, the officer said she didn’t object only because she felt vulnerable as a new recruit.
The allegations came to light after the officer expressed her discomfort with other officers, and one of her male colleagues reported them in an exit interview.
A University official stated the investigation is still ongoing, but Police Chief Craig Stone responded to The Daily Illini’s request for comment with an emailed statement:
“Officer Brian Tison was placed on paid administrative leave, effective Aug. 5, after the police department learned of a new allegation regarding his conduct in 2015 and 2018. We cannot comment on the specifics of personnel matters. Per department and University policy, the allegation is under formal review through the department’s complaint process and through the university’s Title IX office.
The safety and security of the campus community remain paramount, and all of the University of Illinois Police Department’s practices and policies are developed with that in mind. All applicable University processes were initiated when the department learned of this new allegation.”