Dr. Sabina Burton is fighting for the right to advocate for victims of sexual harassment.
Sabina is on the Bleeding edge of the #TIMES UP movement. Her story epitomizes the abuse suffered by women in the workplace. She has been dog-piled by powerful and corrupt administrators and colleagues because she helped a student victim of sexual harassment and had the audacity to complain about the retaliation she received for her advocacy.
On 6-8-18 the UW System Board of Regents fired Dr. Sabina Burton. The reasons given were vague, bogus and false. Dr. Sabina Burton’s story is an amazing example of the abuse women suffer in the workplace and on campuses and the lengths to which those in power will go to protect a sexual predator, their own reputations, their back-room deals, and the flow of student tuition into their own pockets. I am Sabina’s husband and a former U.S. Marine fighter pilot. I have studied the corruption in the UW System since 2012 and I have compiled a trove of evidence against them.
I was sexually assaulted as a child. I know how that feels. It can make you feel weak, confused and vulnerable. It can also give you the resolve necessary to face your fears and try to make real change happen. You need to believe there is a chance to win and that the reward is worth the risk. Whatever anyone else does, I’m standing with Dr. Sabina Burton. I believe she will win. I believe the reward will be that our daughters will build their careers in a society that values women and doesn’t protect the animals who prey on them.
“This I know is true to the core of my being; women cannot achieve equality in the workplace or society until there is a reckoning and a taking of responsibility.” Nora O’Donnel - CBS
Dr. Sabina Burton attempts to hold the University of Wisconsin System accountable. We are fighting a two front war. As a former U.S. Marine officer and Desert Storm veteran, I know what war is about. Until reinforcements arrive, I will hold this hill at all cost. Semper Fi.
State Court: Judicial Review
One of our battles is in the state court. Any tenured faculty member is allowed to petition the court to reverse or remand the Board of Regent's decision and that is what we have done. Any person, including someone threatened with termination by the Board of Regents, can access the records in the court by driving to the courthouse in Lancaster, Wisconsin. If I were getting fired I'd go to the second floor of the courthouse and go to the room with public access computer. A person can look at the documents but can't take a picture of it. If someone wants a copy they can ask the clerk of the court to print it out, for a price.
The Board's attorneys have really confused the court's record. But we have made it workable and understandable if a person knows where to look.
If I were a tenured faculty member in the UW System who is about to be fired, I'd go to Lancaster and take a look at these documents.
Here is my recommended reading list:
1. Filed: 03/14/19 Document E0035 – Primary Brief Submitted to BOR by S. Burton
2. Filed: 03/14/19 Document E0047 – Reply Brief Submitted to BOR by S. Burton
These two documents give a good background of things and also demonstrates some of the tactics used by the Board of Regents' attorneys to fire Dr. Burton because she advocated for a student victim of sexual harassment.
3. Filed: 6/4/19 Dr. Burton's Brief in support of Petition.
This document spells out some of the ways the Board violated Dr. Burton's due process rights. It is good reading for any tenured faculty members who may be facing termination hearings.
4. Filed: 07/06/18 Petition for Judicial Review
This is Dr. Burton's petition. If I were being fired I'd use this as a template for my own petition for judicial review.
If I were facing termination proceedings I'd read these documents to see what to expect in the appeal process. Spoiler alert: I'd expect the Board and many of its agents to violate policy and law. Below is a hypothetical situation where I am a tenured faculty member at UW Platteville (or elsewhere in the UWS) and I was being retaliated against because I opposed discrimination in the workplace, or other such corruption.
In my opinion: If keeping an employee around will expose problems (like corruption) in the administration and/or in the UWS legal department that employee should expect to be fired without a fair hearing. Remember, a tenured faculty member has a right to petition for judicial review. I'd be sure to follow ALL of the rules for filing a petition for judicial review. For example, I wouldn'tt send my petition to the court by registered mail but I'd send it by "CERTIFIED MAIL" as required by the statutes. If I sent it using the wrong method the Board would likely argue that my case should be thrown out and I would likely miss my opportunity. Chris Henige learned this lesson the hard way after he was fired and he was denied judicial review of his case simply because he mailed his petition via registered mail instead of certified mail. You can find out more about Chris Henige and his case at http://www.cchenige.org/UWW/
So, if I were going to fight the UW System, I'd do my homework! I'd follow all rules and I'd do an excellent job at my assigned tasks so there is no legitimate reason for the Board to fire me. I'd expect them to look hard for a reason to fire me.
I'd read Wis. Stat. 230.83. I'd be sure to give any information to my supervisor before going public with it.
In my opinion, anyone who is represented by Mary Kennelley or Tim Hawks against the UW System is doomed to lose unless the Board of Regents doesn't care if they lose. In my opinion, both of these attorneys are crooked. Also, in my opinion, the teachers union is in cahoots with the Board of Regents. I don't trust them. (Lessons learned through personal experience.) I think most attorneys in Wisconsin are afraid to go against the UW System in a case that might make the UW System look bad. You might win a few bucks if you are willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but if you want to make a difference in the world you will have difficulty finding an attorney to take your case. Pro-se (representing yourself) is an option. There might be a handful of attorneys in the state who would take on the UW System.
If I were a tenured faculty member who is about to be fired by the Board of Regents I wouldn't waste money on an attorney during the appeal phase or the oral arguments to the Board of Regents. I'd represent myself. I'd expect that every request I make will be denied. I'd do what I could to make sure that the Board's violations of law and policy would be so obvious that they couldn't support their decisions in court. I'd read Wis. Stat. 227.57 so I know how to prove the violations when I get to the judicial review. I'd document everything. I'd read Dr. Burton's petition for judicial review below so I'd begin to get an idea what to do in the appeal process and before the Board of Regents.
I'd expect that all my colleagues will put a zipper on their mouth and cower behind their desk until the big bad Board of Regents has taken me down like all the others before. I'd expect employees to be too afraid to complain and too afraid to support someone who is targeted by the administration. They have good reason to be afraid. But, in my opinion, a good reason to be afraid is not a good reason to lie and stab a fellow employee in the back. A good reason to be afraid means that a few brave people need to stand and be counted. When the tide turns in favor of the brave, those who have cowered will begin to rise as well. That's what the Board of Regents wants desperately to avoid (imho).
If I filed a complaint with the university or UW System I'd expect my complaint to be summarily dismissed. Or I'd expect that I wouldn't be given an investigation or hearing. I'd ask that the person who conducted the investigation to swear under oath that the report I was given was indeed the report he/she gave to the administration. If the investigation was a sham I'd attack the investigator's credibility. I'd ask that the investigator sign and notarize a copy of the investigation report so I could later add that person to my lawsuit. I would not expect any such sworn statement. Instead, I'd expect that someone altered the report after it was submitted.
If I filed a complaint at UW Platteville I'd expect that pretty soon I'd have a complaint filed against me too. I'd guard against fabrications and I'd document everything.
I use a digital filing system that takes time to implement but it works. I scan EVERYTHING into the computer immediately after I get it. I then keep a timeline with hyperlinks to the saved files. I don't try to keep the files organized by putting them in folders that make sense. This is impossible because things change and I can't see the future. I keep a timeline as my central document. Everything revolves around the timeline. The timing of events is not only important but it is completely unchanging. No matter how many twists and turns are thrown at me the timeline remains consistent.
For example: I might write: On <date> I looked up how to create a hyperlink using MS Word. (HowToHyperlink).
I would never change the location of files on my disk after I store it. But, if I want to move the hyperlink around in my timeline I can do it. Also, I could create other documents with hyperlinks to the stored file. Everyone has their own filing system but I doubt that most people understand the volume of documentation that is required to keep track of a complex case such as ours. Anyway, this helps me keep track of everything. All I need to remember is about when something happened and I can find it.
I'd expect the investigation into allegations against me to produce a report that I would never see. I'd expect instead, that I be given a forged investigation report. I'd expect Attorney Lattis to be involved in such a forgery. I'd expect the investigator to be unavailable for cross-examination. I'd expect that I would not be given adequate time to address the charges against me. I'd make sure that I demanded adequate opportunity to be heard and make sure my objections to the limited time are documented in the record.
I'd expect the appeal panel to be selected in violation of policy so the Chancellor could put his cronies on the panel. I'd ask that all the applicable laws and policies be followed explicitly and in writing. Then I'd have something I could point to in judicial review and in other litigation.
I'd expect the Board, and especially Attorney Lattis, to try to break me financially, emotionally and physically and I would not give them any of those things. I'd conserve money, exercise, get plenty of sleep and above all, I'd stay optimistic. Nobody can convince the court or a jury if they lose faith themselves. I think the single most important thing is to stay optimistic. Optimism gives a person the will to exercise, allows them to sleep through the night and helps a person find the energy to make breakfast for themselves in the morning, work hard all day, prioritize effectively, get things done that need doing and hit the sack exhausted, with a clear mind. How do I stay optimistic? I make myself promises that I will not break. For example, I will hold this hill. Others may have other ways of staying optimistic. This is not a task for the faint of heart. I'd plan to roll with the punches and I'd expect a lot of punches. I'd expect to be fired. I'd expect that my only recourse would be in the courts. For that reason, I wouldn't try too hard, or spend too much, trying to convince a biased hearing panel or the Board of Regents that "I didn't do it." Instead, I'd try to make sure to get into the record all of the documents and evidence I would need to win a judicial review and follow on litigation.
I would expect that it would be easy to get the Board to violate laws right and left. I'd try to get Attorney Jennifer Sloan Lattis as involved as possible and I'd expect her to make a bunch of mistakes. I'd catalog the mistakes. In my opinion, Atty Lattis is the worst person I've ever met. She is like real life Cruella Devile as far as I'm concerned. I'm keeping all my dalmation puppies away from Attorney Jennifer Sloan Lattis. I think UWS attorneys Brian Vaughan and Thomas Stafford are also crooked but Lattis takes the cake. Another attorney I believe to be crooked is Attorney Nate Cade.
Dr. Susan Hansen was the chair of the appeal panel for Sabina's appeal. Each tenured faculty member can ask that a member of the hearing panel be excluded. I'd ask for Hansen to go. She is a lobbyist for the University of Wisconsin Platteville for goodness sake. She gets paid to make the university look good. There are several other people who I wouldn't want on my appeal panel. I'd ask that the panel be provided from another university and I'd expect that my request would be denied.
If I were being processed to be fired by Chancellor Dennis Shields I'd object to everything that he or the hearing panel does that is a violation of law or policy. I'd read all of the applicable laws and policies so I know which ones are being violated. I'd expect the administration to try to keep me in the dark as to what the applicable laws and policies are so I couldn't address any violations. I would take a long vacation in the summer when I'm off contract, so the Board can't force me to participate in hearings while all of my supporters are out of town. I don't know of any regulation that says a faculty member needs to respond to emails or letters while he/she is on vacation during the summer when she/he is off contract.
I'd expect to be suspended with pay. After that point I'd expect the administration to try to rush the process to fire me quickly so they can stop paying me and so I would run out of money.
I wouldn't expect my supporters to make a difference in whether I get fired but they might be helpful to drag out the process while I'm still getting paid. (Remember, they are afraid).
I would work hard to meet all deadlines. I'd keep in mind that one mistake can lead to failure. Even though it seems the other side can make thousands of mistakes and keep winning, the employee can't make any mistakes. I'd work tirelessly to be perfect. When I get discouraged by this, I'd remind myself of how damn good I am.
I'd expect the Board of Regents to try to exclude all of my evidence from the court's record. So, I'd do what I could to ensure it is included. I'd plan on putting a lot of good stuff in my exceptions brief to the Board and in the Reply brief. I'd expect the Board to file my exceptions brief and reply brief with the court and I'd expect them to split up the document and bury it in a bunch of different documents. I'd expect that the Board would file my documents illegibly so the court can't read what I wrote. I'd expect that I'd need to ask the court for permission to fix the record. I'd expect the Board to play all sorts of legal games after I got fired.
If I were a tenured faculty member in the UW System and I had a grievance against the administration I'd file a grievance or a complaint while I am still employed. I'd expect that the administration would then try to fabricate allegations against me. I would fight every inch until they fire me. And I would expect them to fire me, as surely as the snow melts in the spring. I wouldn't be surprised when I get fired, I'd just move to the next phase of the legal battle, judicial review.
I'd remember that in federal court, either party can file for summary judgment, not just the defendant Board.
There are a lot of other things I'd also do if I were a tenured faculty member who has fallen into bad graces with the Board of Regents because I opposed discrimination. I wonder if I should share more?
Dr. Burton was scheduled for a court hearing on March 11, 2019 in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison) but that has been delayed. To see all the case documents, go to Pacer.gov and search for the docket for Case: 3:17-cv-00036-jdp. The dates may change so check the court records for updates. Anyone who cares about sexual harassment, women’s rights, tenure rights and freedom of speech should make plans to attend these court hearings.
Hypocrisy, Lies, Mendacity, Deceit, Retaliation, Perjury, Forgery, Fraud, Violations of Law, Violations of Policy, Violations of Ethics, Violations of Human Decency, Sexual Harassment: the UW System Board of Regents should not support these things. As a person of integrity, I am absolutely shocked by the number of people; real human beings with free will; Americans in the land of the Free and the Brave; who are willing to turn a blind eye to truth and even to participate in workplace retaliation against supporters of student victims of sexual harassment. Shame on them.
People of integrity need to take a stand for truth. We need to stand with Dr. Sabina Burton. Anyone who has been sexually harassed, or knows someone who was sexually harassed, and wants to help make a better world needs to take a stand for the very rare people like Dr. Sabina Burton. It’s been open season on vulnerable women on college campuses for far too long. Let’s change that together. Meet us at the courthouse!!!! Stand with Dr. Sabina Burton!!!!!! Tell others!!!!
Truth, righteousness, honor, dignity, integrity, valor, courage, compassion and love of fellow human beings are not enough to win against an entrenched, corrupt and powerful University System that is willing to sacrifice good teachers to protect known sexual predators, criminals and liars.
In the News
This website contains a very few of my views and my opinions. I have not provided everything on this website that I could. I can provide evidence to support my arguments. Roger Burton - RogerBurton@PlattevilleRealEstate.net