St. Norbert's Rev. Fostner being investigated for his handling of sexual assault reports
By Ben Krumholz
October 19, 2018
FOX 11 has learned that St. Norbert College has hired a third-party investigator to look into allegations that an administrator mishandled reports of sexual assaults on campus.
St. Norbert President Brian Bruess confirms the investigation into Rev. Jay Fostner is in response to a request from hundreds of alumni.
Fostner is the Vice President for Mission and Student Affairs as well as an assistant professor of psychology.
Margaret Uselman, a 2017 graduate of St. Norbert, wrote a lengthy social media post in September outlining incidents involving Fostner. She accused Fostner of, "gaslighting, manipulating, and blaming students, using his volatile temper in a manner that kept students in a state of dis-ease, and covering up for abusers on campus."
Uselman’s post led to a letter to St. Norbert President Brian Bruess, which has now been signed by more than 300 graduates. The letter asks Bruess for a transparent investigation of Fostner. It states among the stories of survivors being shared regarding Fostner, “there is a consistent pattern of covering up sexual misconduct, disregard for the Title IX process, and placing survivors under duress with the goal of silencing them.”
“I was there four years, heard from numerous people every year I was there that things like this were happening,” Uselman told FOX 11.
Uselman says President Bruess sent her an email this week that said a third-party investigator was recently hired to look into Fostner's tenure with the school.
“I feel really optimistic,” said Uselman. “It feels like President Bruess and the current administration are listening to student and alumni concerns and that they do want to continue the commitment to student safety and student wellbeing.”
Bruess would not provide FOX 11 an on-camera interview about the investigation because it is a personnel matter. However, he provided us a statement.
“We’re reviewing this complaint consistent with the way we handle all complaints at the college and we take all complaints seriously and review them consistent with our college policies. This review was initiated out of an abundance of caution and with the full support of Fr. Jay," said Bruess in his statement.
Bruess says Fostner will continue working while the investigation is going on.
That is unlike a January investigation that looked into misconduct allegations against Fostner from the 1980s. According to a September letter sent to students, national third-party investigator, Praesidium, determined those accusations against Fostner were false and without merit.
“The feeling among a lot of alumni and current students is that Praesidium is a risk management agency and isn't really in it to get the truth and is really there to protect the image of the Norbertines and the college,” said Uselman.
St. Norbert would not say who is investigating Fostner this time around.
FOX 11 has a message into Fostner about the latest investigation. He has not returned our call.