Montana State University-Northern administrator Randy Bachmeier is asking for $150,000 in damages from the university for making his life “a living nightmare.”
He said then-Provost Rosalyn Templeton was taking steps to have him terminated after he filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Montana Human Relations Bureau.
The bureau is holding a three-day hearing at Northern into Bachmeier’s complaint.
He contends that Templeton repeatedly inappropriately touched him.
Bachmeier said he wants $50,000 for being blocked from the chance to advance by Chancellor James Limbaugh’s change to the notice of vacancy that only allowed full professors to apply for interim provost.
“There is no foreseeable opportunity for me to advance,” Bachmeier said.
Bachmeier also wants $100,000 for emotional damages caused by Templeton and the volatile work environment at Northern since she left her position.
“This is something that will follow me forever,” Bachmeier said.
The session began with Bachmeier’s attorney, John Heenan, questioning the hearing’s first witness, Dean of the College of Education, Arts and Sciences and Nursing Christine Shearer-Cremean. During her questioning, Shearer-Cremean said that former Templeton made the work environment “unbearable” at the university, especially after Bachmeier filed the complaint.
Chair of the College of Technical Sciences Larry Strizich testified that he saw Templeton touching Bachmeier and other subordinates on numerous occasions and that some of the occasions, Templeton was “borderline fondling” university employees.
Strizich and Shearer-Cremean said they witnessed an occasion at Limbaugh’s residence where Templeton touched Bachmeier while he stood in a food line.
Shearer-Cremean said it was the only occasion she saw Templeton touch Bachmeier and Strizich said it was one of many he witnessed.
In Bachmeier’s deposition, he said that this occasion was the last time Templeton touched him and that she stopped the nearly three-year habit after he filed the sexual harassment complaint against her. By the last time she touched him, at the chancellor’s home, Bachmeier had already hired an attorney and then filed a complaint with the MHR.
Bachmeier was the last witness Tuesday as his attorney questioned him and was the first this morning, with the defending attorneys taking their turn to cross-examine him.
While being examined by his own attorneys, Bachmeier said his work environment was made “a living nightmare” by Templeton and that after the April 30 meeting, where he made his first verbal response to her touch, he feared for his job and well-being rather than her advances.
“For whatever reason, I had to say ‘please stop,’” Bachmeier said in response to a question about why he waited until that day before saying something to Templeton.
After he told her to “please stop,” Bachmeier claims that Templeton then began to retaliate against him. In a 24-hour period, beginning a few hours after the meeting, Bachmeier was officially reprimanded twice.
“She was building a case to terminate me,” Bachmeier said.
Bachmeier said he feared that after he asked her to stop, she was afraid he would file a complaint and was trying to find a reason to fire him before he could file it.
Bachmeier and his attorneys maintain that he was effectively blocked from applying to the position of provost once Templeton was put on leave. He said he believes that he had the experience equal to what the notice of vacancy was asking for in a candidate.
The notice called for candidates with the title of associate or full professor in a note sent to Northern employees. Bachmeier asked that it was amended so that those who have the same experience but not necessarily those titles be eligible to apply.
When the notice was made official days later, it was amended to accept only candidates who had the title of full professor.
Bachmeier maintains his application was not considered in retaliation for his complaint against Templeton.
“I thought it was a slap in the face,” Bachmeier said.
Templeton will testify today at the hearing, which is open to the public. The hearing is expected to end some time Thursday.