I have written several times about the ordeal of Widener Law Professor Lawrence Connell, who was given notice of dismissal after he used a hypothetical example in his criminal law class of the Widener Dean Linda Ammons being attacked, and a small number of students alleged that Connell made racist and/or sexist statements in class.
Connell contested his dismissal at a law school disciplinary hearing, and also has sued for defamation. Connell claimed he was singled out because he is openly conservative.
Connell just received word that he won the disciplinary hearing. From a Press Release issued by his attorneys:
After a three-day trial on June 6-8, a Widener University committee today unanimously cleared law professor Larry Connell of charges that he was a racist, a sexist and a danger to students.
“I am elated,” said Connell, “and I look forward to returning in the fall to the campus from which I was banned by Dean Ammons and to resuming my teaching duties. I would not have won without the testimony of dozens of my students who submitted statements to refute the baseless charges two disgruntled students filed against me. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
“Once again the faculty of the law school spoke clearly about the tactics of Dean Ammons in her attempt to rid the campus of my conservative voice. This is the second time the faculty refused to sign on to her vendetta against me,” added Connell.
The University impaneled a committee consisting of law professors Judy Ritter and Jim May, as well as University associate vice-president of administration George Hassel, to hear the case against Connell. In a unanimous 52 page decision, which the University will have to decide on releasing to the media, the committee exonerated Connell of all charges of racial and sexual harassment and discrimination under the University’s rules.
Update: I should add that according to the Press Release Connell was found to have engaged in “retaliation”:
The committee, however, did find that Connell had violated code prohibitions against “retaliation” for emailing his students to explain why Ammons had banned him from the campus and for his attorney Thomas Neuberger’s issuing a press statement explaining his efforts to identify Connell’s accusers and to protect his client’s reputation.
I have requested a copy of the decision from Widener, but based on a converstation I had with Widener’s Director of Public Relations, it appears that Widener will not provide the decision. If that changes, and I can obtain the full decision, I will post it.
Update No. 2: I received the following statement from Widener:
“The Committee has submitted its report to the dean of the law school and each of the parties. The contents of this report are confidential. The university’s policy is not to release documents on personnel issues to the news media or to comment on their contents. The lawsuit that Professor Connell has filed is a matter of litigation to be decided in the Delaware Court. We believe that the claims raised in the lawsuit are without merit and the matter will be defended vigorously.”
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