Faculty committe drops most charges against Widener prof, but the case is far from resolved

July 29, 2011

You might remember a story from earlier this year about Widener Law associate professor Lawrence Connell.

His attorney, Tom Neuberger,  has issued a press release saying a faculty committee cleared Connell of most of the accusations against him following a three-day trial in June. According to the Widener faculty handbook, Connell’s case will also be reviewed by several levels of Widener’s senior administration as well as another faculty committee before reaching a resolution.

In a criminal law class, Connell used violent, edgy hypothetical examples to demonstrate legal theories, including one in which he shot Law School dean Linda Ammons in the head.

Widener officials said his classroom comments constituted harassment and put him on administrative leave. Connell, who is also suing Ammons and the student that accused him in Sussex County court, argues he used shocking examples to help students remember lessons and believes he was railroaded for his conservative ideology.

“The committee exonerated Connell of all charges of racial and sexual harassment and discrimination under the University’s rules,” according to Neuberger’s press release.

Widener responded with the following statement:

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.

Connell’s situation has attracted a good bit of interest from conservatives and people who follow the legal world and academic freedom.

Schools: Widener University School of Law Cases: Widener University: Law School Threatens Professor’s Academic Freedom