Michigan State Professor Robert Wiseman Accused Of Sexually Harassing Nine Women

Photo: Michigan State University
Who Is Robert Wiseman? New Details On The Michigan State Professor Accused Of Sexually Harassing Nine Women

A professor at Michigan State University was found to have been systematically harassing women at work for 17 years, a new report reveals. Robert Wiseman was the subject of an independent investigation by a firm the University contracted and their report details multiple incidents of harassment and creating a hostile work environment. The University suspended him for six weeks and now he is back at work full time, with full pay.

Who is Robert Wiseman and why did he get off so easy in a harassment scandal? Read on for all the details.

1. Wiseman

Robert Wiseman is a physiology professor at the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. That is the same department where Larry Nassar, the doctor convicted of raping hundreds of gymnasts was employed until 2016. Wiseman has worked in the department since 2001. By 2002, he was alleged to have been making sexually inappropriate remarks. The pattern continued until 2018, when a woman who worked with him finally filed a complaint about him. Other complaints soon followed.

He has been harassing women almost as long as he has worked at MSU.

2. Allegations

When the allegations were first filed against Wiseman in 2018, the University brought in an independent firm to investigate the situation. Kroll Associates conducted a review of the allegations in order to speed the process. They found that Wiseman had engaged in a pattern of "unwanted, persistent and pervasive" sexual behavior toward women at the university and they said he created a hostile environment, according to reporting from the Lansing State Journal.

The University commisioned an independent investigation.

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3. Sexual remarks

The report details a pattern of behavior where Wiseman made sexually charged remarks to at least nine women over the course of 17 years. Investigators found instances of him speaking in a suggestive manner beginning in 2002, the Lansing State Journal reports. Women who worked with him at the time recounted talking about being injured during a weekend volleyball game and detailing discomfort in their knees. Wiseman responded by saying: "Oh I'm sure that's not the only reason why you were on your knees this weekend," and "Oh sure, that's how you got the bruises on your knees." Another woman recalls him telling her "kinky things" about sex toys he owned and about a sex swing he'd bought. He said she would fit well in the swing, according to the Lansing State Journal

When questioned by the investigators, Wiseman tried to brush the comments off as friendly banter, saying all the conversations were "mutual consensual discourse," rather than him "running around telling [women] things." 

He engaged in inappropriate sexual innuendo.

4. Retaliation

Not only did Wiseman harass women, the Lansing State Journal discovered that when he found out they objected to his behavior he tried to silence them. One woman told investigators that he called her in to discuss things she had told others about him, saying: "He lectured me. I was (redacted) and he closed the door, stood over me and lectured me. He told me how this would only make me 'look bad.' He made me feel threatened like I was in trouble. He even said that I wouldn't go anywhere if I looked bad.”

Another witness worried that he would try to damage her career if she spoke up, saying: "I have no doubt he will try to undermine my ability to do what I do. He is disgusting and manipulative. I view him as dangerous, bullish and as a threat. He uses his status to do what he does." 

The department has a history of this behavior.

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5. Hotbed of misconduct

Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine is not new to allegations of gross sexual misconduct.  It was the workplace of Larry Nassar, the doctor who was fired for sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts over the course of several decades. He later admitted to some of the accusations and is currently serving a 60 year prison sentence for his crimes. He had been associated with USA Gymnastics at the time the accusations were made public in 2015 and they cut ties with him shortly thereafter. In 2016, Michigan State reassigned him from clinical work to a teaching position then fired him completely a month later.

In addition, William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, which employed both Nassar and Wiseman, was found guilty of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty, as well as committed acts of sexual misconduct of his own.

No such legal action was taken in regards to Wiseman, however. Michigan State can confirm that he was suspended without pay for only six weeks but is now back at work full time. He faces no criminal charges.

Wiseman got a slap on the wrist.

One of the women he harassed told why investigators that she didn’t come forward sooner, saying, "I wish I had said something to him myself, but it was not an easy thing. Part of it's that it felt like women just have to deal with inappropriate men all the time, so I just brushed it off. Now, I'm more compelled to say something." 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.