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Gophers associate AD accused of 'unwanted touching,' report says

Randy Handel

MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota associate athletics director Randy Handel has been accused of unwanted touching, hugging and inappropriate comments toward a female co-worker, according to KSTP-TV.

The ABC affiliate reported Tuesday, May 16 that it reviewed a confidential investigative report from the school's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA). The report said Handel "created an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment" for the woman, who was a subordinate in the department.

Handel, who has been in the Gophers athletics department since 2010, has denied the allegations, the report said. He was placed on paid leave last week.

According to KSTP, the EOAA investigation found Handel "engaged in conduct of a sexual nature" toward the woman. The school's report said Handel called the woman "beautiful" and said "if only I were a few years younger," the TV report quoted.

Handel, who is married and lives in St. Louis Park, denied making that statement, the TV station said.

The EOAA report from May 3 included perspectives from Handel, the alleged victim and seven witnesses. The university's Board of Regents said last week it will investigate the disclosure of the report to the TV station. All 12 regents signed an affidavit declaring they were not the source.

Witnesses had "positive things to say about their interactions" with Handel and described him as "sensitive," "emotional" and "affectionate," the report said.

The TV station also said: Four witnesses reported that Handel "sometimes lingered" around the woman. One witness described him as being "very touchy" with her.

The school's report said the witness statements made the woman's claims "more credible."

According to the EOAA report, the woman said Handel hugged and touched her more than 40 times within the last year, the TV station said. On one occasion, the woman told Handel she was "not comfortable hugging."

Handel denied the allegations that included touching on her face, neck and upper chest, the report said. He "never had any sexual intent in interactions," the report quoted him saying.

The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.