Crossing the line in workplace relationships isn't that uncommon


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT McKENNEY

Posted on February 4, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 10:50 PM

AUSTIN -- On the heels of the news of another coach-student relationship at the University of Texas, it appears workplace relationships isn't that uncommon.

Attorney Kevin Madison handles sexual harassment and other such cases. Madison said whether it's a college or a large corporation, these relationships happen. He said the problem comes when there is a differential in power between the employees.

"That's why they're so dangerous and fraught with problems," Madison told KVUE.

Madison said problems often begin when the relationship ends. He said these types of relationships are also common in the medical field, where it is illegal between a doctor and patient.

"15 to 16 percent of doctors self reported that they have had consensual sexual relations with a female patient," Madison said.

Just days after Major Applewhite publicly admitted inappropriate behavior with an adult student in 2009, the University of Texas Board of Regents held an emergency telephone meeting Sunday.

Chairman Gene Powell and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa released a joint statement.

In part it reads, "As leaders of the University of Texas system, our chief concern is and always will be the safety and welfare of the students at our 15 institutions."
The chairman and chancellor also said their goal is to build a model that can be used nationwide as an example of best practices in dealing with issues of student relations.

This isn't the first time UT has had to deal with such personal matters. Just last month UT Track and Field Coach Bev Kearney resigned after UT told her a termination process would begin because of her relationship with a student athlete in 2002.

Although punished, Applewhite has kept his job.

When reached by phone, Kearney's lawyer Derek Howard said he cannot comment on either case right now.

Meantime, UT says it will reach out to national experts to assist in it's review and will announce more details over the next several days.