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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Noe, wife part of BG’s past

Former University Board of Trustees member Tom Noe testified in a 1996 court hearing that he didn’t use a position of power to get his wife – Bernadette Noe – a job with the University.

Bernadette was director of major gifts for the University through Feb. 7, 1995, when she resigned because of alleged sexual harassment by Phil Mason, then vice president of University Relations.

Mason didn’t return calls from The BG News for this story.

Following her resignation she filed a $9 million lawsuit against the University, claiming three University employees conspired to prevent a sexual harassment investigation. Former president Paul Olscamp, University attorney Nancy Footer and affirmative action director Marshall Rose were all eventually found not guilty of Bernadette’s accusations.

Bernadette returned to the University for a new job as athletic fundraiser after a 30-day paid vacation, while charges were still filed against the University.

Prior to the sexual harassment suit, Noe was appointed to Ohio’s Board of Regents – which oversees all state universities and colleges – by then governor George Voinovich.

In October 1996, an affidavit prepared by former University president Paul Olscamp forced Board of Regents member Noe to testify in an immunity hearing about his role in getting Bernadette her second job – while he was a BGSU Trustee.

Olscamp questioned Noe’s ethics because Noe was believed to have influenced the decision for her new job, according to minutes from the Oct. 10, 1996, immunity hearing. If someone is cleared of charges they are granted immunity, an exception from legal duties or liability.

Noe testified he never mentioned Bernadette’s name to Ron Zwierlein, athletic director, who later hired Bernadette. He said he did talk to Zwierlein and trustee Kermit Stroh about the need for a full-time athletic fund-raiser – but never mentioned any names.

Zwierlein later testified that Noe and Stroh approached him about the possibility of filling the position in late October 1994, and Bernadette’s name was given to him.

“It was said you need a fundraiser in Intercollegiate athletics. Someone like Bernadette Noe,” Zwierlein testified.

Stroh said he took part in the creation of the position, but never gave any specific names.

“There was a need for the position and I was encouraging the creation of the job, not who would get the job,” he said. “The trustees do not hire, administration does.”

But Zwierlein said he didn’t feel pressured to hire Bernadette because of Noe and Stroh’s remarks.

“I quickly learned in this position I answer to the president of the institution and not the Board of Trustees,” Zwierlein said.

Wood County Common Pleas Court ruled the three University members didn’t hinder the sexual harassment investigation. Bernadette decided to take her case to the Ohio Court of Claims, this time for $6 million.

All charges were eventually dropped after Bernadette settled out-of-court settlement for $95,000. She also agreed to never seek employment at the University in the future.

Noe – a 19-year Bowling Green resident and student at BGSU for one year before dropping out – is currently under investigation for missing money from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation investment in his Maumee rare-coin business.

He was also indicted last Thursday by federal prosecutors for violating campaign contribution laws by allegedly laundering $45,400 of his own money into the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign. He could serve up to five years for each of the three counts if convicted, and be fined around $800,000.

Noe appeared in a federal court Friday in handcuffs in front of a U.S. magistrate, who set his bond at $1 million. Noe walked out of the court house after posting bond, which was secured by putting up a Florida Keys home, according to media reports.

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