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UW-L student accusing professor of sexual misconduct speaks out

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – An update on the investigation into sexual misconduct at UW-La Crosse.

The student alleging the misconduct, UW-L senior Caycee Bean, teamed up with her legal team to share her experience thus far with the investigation and her hopes for the future.

The statement said in part, “She hopes that her harasser is permanently removed from the UWL faculty. She fears that even if he is removed from the UWL faculty, he may get a position at another school where he can continue to prey on students.”

Bean alleges her former art professor, Joel Elgin, inappropriately groped her in a paper room after offering her private ‘art lessons’ when she was a freshman. Bean later took her accusations to University Human Resources in the fall of 2018, but said she felt as though her complaint had been “swept under the rug.”

Unsatisfied, Bean went to Facebook, posting her version of events, along with a call for action.

“When I hit ‘post’ it felt like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders,” Bean said.

Beans post quickly went viral, amassing thousands of likes and shares by outraged friends, family, and acquaintances.

Within 48 hours, UW-L issued a formal statement reopening the investigation into the accused professor.

In her statement, Bean said she did not anticipate the reaction her post would generate.

“I’m thankful for the students and community members who shared or commented on my post. They helped my voice to be heard and encouraged others to come forward,” Bean said. She went on to say believes that had it not been for the public interest in her story, her harasser would not be under investigation now.

The week after the misconduct investigation was reopened, the UW-La Crosse Art Department Chair, Joel Elgin, was placed on leave pending an investigation.

UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow has told News 19 that multiple other people have come forward with additional accusations against Elgin similar to Bean’s. Others have confided their allegations to Bean as well, which may be used in the misconduct investigation.  Bean said some are not ready to come forward fully and she won’t publicly identify or share their stories. “They are not my stories to share. The people who lived them have to make that decision,” Bean said.

According to her statement, Bean is now studying for her major in art and minor in photography and plans to graduate in Spring 2020. Reflecting on her experience, Bean said, “It was a struggle–it still is.”

The sexual misconduct investigation remains open.

Read Caycee Bean’s full statement here.


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