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UNC To Suspend Honor Court Hearing Of UNC Student Pending External Review

By Ran Northam Posted March 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm

CHAPEL HILL – UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp announced Tuesday that he has asked the Honor Court to suspend its hearing involving Landen Gambill.

The hearing was scheduled to take place some time in the next couple weeks and centers around complaints made by Gambill’s ex-boyfriend that she engaged in disruptive or intimidating behavior by continually referencing the fact that she was sexually assaulted. Gambill claims she never publicly announced her ex-boyfriend’s name.

Early this week, Gambill’s lawyer Henry Clay Turner, wrote a letter to Chancellor Thorp asking that the proceedings be dismissed. It also announced that Gambill filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights claiming that she believed the University was retaliating against her for all the attention and now investigations she has brought to the University.

To see the letter from Turner to Chancellor Thorp, click here.

However the lawyer representing Gambill’s ex-boyfriend, John Gresham of Tin Fulton in Charlotte, says that can’t be true.

“The University had nothing to do with that. It was handled exactly like any other complaint,” Gresham said. “It was reviewed by a third-year law student which is exactly the way the Honor Court is supposed to work to determine if there is a basis for the charge. She determined there was a basis for the charge. So then it was in the Honor Court proceeding, exactly like any other Honor Court proceeding.”

“Ms. Gambill’s actions were affecting his ability to take full advantage of the education at Chapel Hill,” Gresham explained. “He was subject to comments, and threats of physical injury. He was facing signs across campus that said, ‘Intimidate Rapists.’”

“He was having to travel on campus with someone else to make sure that there was someone else there to observe what occurred and to also make sure that Ms. Gambill could not say in any way that he had interfered. He was under an obligation not to have contact with her. He changed a class so that he would not even be in the same area as her,” Gresham said.

Gresham says the University has to be sure it’s treating everyone justly.

“I can understand the University wanting to ensure that everything has been dealt with appropriately since the University has been under attack,” Gresham says. “However, whether the University is under attack or not, it still has its obligations to all of its students.”

Gresham told WCHL he would be in contact with the University immediately following the interview to ask what the suspension of the Honor Court proceedings mean.

Gambill’s complaint is the third filed with the OCR against UNC; it’s also investigating the University for the handling of sexual assault cases after  a complaint was filed by Gambill and several other women including former assistant dean for students Melinda Manning, and for possible Clery Act violations. The Clery Act is a federal law that requires campuses to disclose crime statistics.

A representative from Turner’s office told WCHL the he would not be able to answer questions from the media via telephone due to the number of requests. She said he would be answering them via email, but WCHL has not yet gotten a response.

In part of a letter addressed to the UNC faculty, staff, and students, Chancellor Thorp said, “For several weeks, the University has grappled with how best to respond to a public claim of retaliation against the University while maintaining the autonomy and integrity of our Honor Court proceedings and the privacy of the individuals involved.”

 

To see the full letter from Chancellor Thorp, click here.
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