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U of M Board of Regents finalist recounts 'bad behavior' with woman in 1976

ST. PAUL—Jim Carter, the former Green Bay Packer and a finalist for a seat on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, says his "bad behavior" with a team employee in 1976 should not disqualify him for the role.

A receptionist sued Carter and the Packers, alleging the linebacker exposed himself to her in her work area, then "blocked her exit with athletic shorts at his ankles," according to news reports from 1976.

She further claimed that the team fired her after she complained about it.

At the time, Carter described the incident to reporters as "harmless." Forty years later, he sees it in a different light.

"It was terrible, bad behavior," he said in a Pioneer Press interview Thursday, Jan. 12.

A recovering alcoholic, Carter recalled that he was drunk and in a hot tub while the rest of the team was practicing. He had seen the receptionist out at the bars, he said, and he asked her for oral sex. She refused and he didn't press the matter, he said.

"That was it, nothing happened. I didn't touch her or nothing," he said.

Carter said he was addicted to alcohol and sex and was using marijuana regularly. That doesn't excuse his behavior, he said, but he doesn't think it's relevant to his regents candidacy.

"It's been 40 years. I think it's time to let it go," he said.

The 68-year-old Hastings resident is one of three finalists chosen by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council to represent the Second Congressional District with a six-year term on the volunteer board, which oversees the Twin Cities and satellite campuses. The Legislature will make the appointments later this session.

Numerous news reporters this week received anonymous envelopes with photocopies of the 1976 news reports about the lawsuit.

Carter didn't recall how the suit was resolved, and the Pioneer Press could not locate additional news reports about it. No working phone number for the former receptionist could be found.

A former Golden Gopher himself, Carter has been an outspoken supporter of the school's football team and critic of the university administration.

He backed the team last month when they announced a boycott to protest the treatment of 10 players accused of being a party to a sexual assault. And he criticized the firing of head coach Tracy Claeys, who also supported the short-lived boycott.

In his interview last week with the advisory council, Carter said he hadn't read the university's 80-page investigative report about the sexual assault when he made the supportive comments, but he said that wouldn't have changed his opinion.

"I would not change anything at all about what I did in the way of supporting the team," he said. "I believe what the players boycotted for and wanted to walk out for was transparency and fairness, and I would again support them for that. ... It in no way signifies condoning sexual assault, sexual abuse, anything like that."

Ardell Brede, the advisory council chairman, did not return a phone call about Carter's candidacy.

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