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Former U of M researcher awarded $1 in sexual harassment case

MINNEAPOLIS -- A former University of Minnesota researcher was sexually harassed by a supervisor but suffered no actual damages, a federal jury in Minneapolis said Friday, March 17, after a two-week trial.

Stephanie Jenkins, a doctoral student who left school in 2012 after reporting the harassment, wanted compensation for the career she said she was unable to pursue.

But the judge instructed the jury to compensate her only for emotional pain and suffering and only that which was not caused by her quitting school.

Ultimately, the jury awarded Jenkins just $1, finding that the damages had no monetary value.

Jenkins was 29 in 2011 when she went on two two-week trips to Alaska with Ted Swem, a 59-year-old U.S. Fish and Wildlife scientist, to study falcons.

She said Swem took a photo of her backside, told sexually explicit jokes and pressed her for a romantic relationship.

Jenkins told the university about her concerns only after the second trip, when she and Swem were assigned a shared office on the Twin Cities campus. Her academic advisers moved her to a separate office but told her she would need to keep working with Swem.

Jenkins left school weeks later.

The jury Friday found the university was not liable for creating a hostile work environment, either because officials did not know about the harassment or acted quickly to correct it.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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