UWS professor put on paid leave during investigation of past convictionA University of Wisconsin-Superior professor has been put on paid leave while the university investigates a report it received last week about a decades-old conviction in Utah of attempted child sexual abuse, according to a UWS official.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
A University of Wisconsin-Superior professor has been put on paid leave while the university investigates a report it received last week about a decades-old conviction in Utah of attempted child sexual abuse, according to a UWS official.
Matthew Faerber, director of choral activities and a professor of vocal music education at UWS and the chorus director of the volunteer Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Chorus, has been employed with UWS since 1998. When he was hired, the UW System did not require background checks on new employees, said Lynne Williams, director of marketing and communications for UWS.
According to a 1991 Deseret News story, Faerber, who was formerly choir director at Murray (Utah) High, was charged with sexual improprieties involving two 13-year-old music students. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted sexual abuse of a child, which are third-degree felonies, and was sentenced to six months in jail. Following that, he was to enroll in a residential treatment facility for counseling and was put on 36 months of probation.
He was to have no contact with young women during that time and to pay for the counseling of the victims, according to the Deseret News of Salt Lake City.
Faerber said Friday that, because of the investigation, he would say only that what happened was “23 years ago.”
“This went through the court system; I have paid for what I did,” he said. “I have been clean 100 percent.”
Richard Tranter, who recently retired as superintendent for the Utah district in which Faerber worked, said Friday that at the time he and everyone in the community were “extremely” surprised by the news. Faerber graduated from Murray High and took over teaching duties when his former instructor retired, said Tranter, of Sandy, Utah.
“The program didn’t miss a beat; he was an incredible teacher,” Tranter said. “He was well-loved by the community and highly respected.”
Williams said an investigator has been appointed, and UWS is following procedures that ensure the safety of students while respecting the rights of Faerber. She said the investigation is fact-finding, and is not related to anything that has happened on the UWS campus.
An open records request from the News Tribune fulfilled by UWS Friday revealed that no complaints have been filed against Faerber and no disciplinary action was taken against him that led to the leave of absence.
The UW System put in place a criminal background check policy for new hires on Dec. 1, 2007, and strengthened it twice this year.
Williams said Faerber’s classes will be taught by another instructor during the leave of absence.