Mobbing in two American universities

Prof. Jeff Johnson, from Northborough, Massachusetts done in court after allegations of harassment and identity theft quashed, from Boston, Massachusetts State, USA, intl., by Charles Dusman, Freelance Editorialist and News Writer, United Kingdom, Octwoodward@gmail.com, in consortium with Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey.

On Friday, September 20, 2013, former Western Connecticut State University administrator Linda Vaden-Goad, currently Vice President of Academic Affairs at Framingham State University, was ordered to attend a settlement hearing in Bridgeport, Connecticut in regard to civilly libelous behavior she wrongfully exercised toward former Western Connecticut State  University professor Rosalie Appel.

As first reported by United Kingdom press last spring, charges were suddenly quashed in pretrial conferences against Framingham State University Prof. Jeff Johnson, where he worked as an Assistant Professor for several years until he decided to part ways in 2011.  According to court records, almost every administrative decision preceding Johnson's departure involved Vaden-Goad.  Court documents confirmed the unprecedented fact that Vaden-Goad oversaw Johnson's employment hearing, under a provision of the collective bargaining agreement that does not exclude parties directly involved.

Appel and Johnson's cases are part of a foray on academic mobbing worldwide, including cases in North America, South America, Australia and here in Europe.  All examples meet one criterion: an administrator who is a driving force in two different case studies.

THE LEGAL ELEMENT
Rosalie Appel started experiencing retaliatory behavior from Vaden-Goad after she (Appel) came to the aid of a colleague in another WCSU case.  Vaden-Goad  was very much a key defendant in Appel's own civil lawsuit.  According to court records,   "The 'controlling question' was 'whether defendant(s) [Vaden-Goad] can show indisputably that they would have taken the same adverse actions, namely implementation and enforcement of the [remediation plan] and the resulting discipline against Appel, even in the absence of her protected speech'"  The court ruled in favor of Appel.

On 27 Mar 2013, Vaden-Goad et al., appealed this decision to  the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, who upheld that, "...a question of fact existed as to whether [Vaden Goad's] treatment of Appel after Appel filed her 2006 lawsuit...was motivated by legitimate reasons or impermissible retaliation [and] therefore affirm the district court's denial of qualified immunity on Appel's First Amendment claim."

The 27 Mar 2013 court records also affirmed Appel's second claim, "that defendants violated her right to privacy by requesting that she show them her medical records in connection with a psychiatric examination she was required to undergo to continue teaching." 

The court added that, "invading or intending to invade the privacy of an employee's medical or mental health records will violate the employee's Fourteenth Amendment right to substantive due process if the employer's intent is to "injure or to spite" the plaintiff."

According to the LCCS, "These two rulings are direct vindication for injurious, calculating and retaliatory behavior that Vaden-Goad et al.  wantonly and maliciously demonstrated toward Appel."

It is also a victory of principle and profession for Johnson, whose resignation is not without an extraordinarily similar pattern of escalating behavior perverted by Vaden-Goad upon Appel.  The LCCS confirmed that comparing court documents show an almost "xeroxed" match in the methodology of both academic mobbing campaigns, both pursued by Vaden-Goad.


THE AMERICAN PRETRIAL
Although some laws and procedure vary state to state, pretrial proceedings involve a 9-12 month process, during which the plaintiff's attorney and defense counsel pursue a disposition agreeable to the plaintiff(s), defendant(s) and counselors.  The counselors then present the disposition to the judge.  Fruition of a disposition generally requires 9-12 months, particularly those involving misdemeanor allegations.

The pretrial procedure in the United States justice system generally follows the following steps: arraignment, discovery, compliance/election, continuances and status appearances.  A trial will follow if the ADA and defense attorney cannot reason an agreeable disposition. 

This case, filed in July of 2011,  lasted twenty-two months in pretrial court proceedings. Significant delays are most often caused by unsuccessful efforts for a public prosecutor (an assistant district attorney) and public or private defense attorney to agree on a pretrial disposition.  Awaiting evidence analysis is another common cause for delay.

It is seldom that prosecutors enter their intent to no longer pursue charges after so much time has passed since the filing date. Longer time periods are indicative of the state strengthening their case against the defendant.  Among 

Common reasons a prosecutor/plaintiff may not prosecute include the nature of the offense, lack of or no valid and reliable evidence, the defendant’s (lack of) criminal history and (lack of) prior appearances in court. The defendant’s residence, employment status, and ties to the community are also contributing variables.

These steps would normally call for a 9-12 month period following the date that the charges were pressed in court.  A trial would not add any more than a month.  

Even more peculiar is the consent and participation of the affiant in press coverage of an ongoing investigation for which they identify themselves as the alleged victim, as was written in a November 2011 university article.

ACADEMIC MOBBING
This article marks the ten-year anniversary of Susan Dunn's breakthrough report on multi-international academic mobbing reports among the nations of three continents: Australia, Europe and North America. Dunn is a prolific writer for Webpronews.com and marketing coach, consultant and website reviewer of Webstrategies.cc.  

Following the tradition of Dunn's work, the current research mainstreams an international foray of academic mobbing examples.  Among approximately eight hundred academic mobbing examples since 2003, sixty cases significantly surpassed the profundity of exploitation, extensiveness and injurious effect solicited upon higher education faculty by their respective institutions.  

In comparison and counterpoint to Appel's case, this article reports one of the most "heinous" and "obvious" examples of academic mobbing that experts have considered in recent years, also involving Vaden-Goad.  Research, legal analysis and integration of court documents, bankruptcy records on affiants involved,  police reports and prior media attention provides a voice to enfranchise the victim of mobbing, Professor Jeff Johnson of Framingham State University. "Mobbed faculty" are rarely complicit to offer direct testimony about their mobbing experience.  Exhaustive.  Johnson's case is particularly intriguing due to his tenacity and insistence not to speak publicly about it.  

According to Freelance compatriot and legal journalist Jayne Howarth, "A mobbing campaign commonly begins with a benign incident provoked and facilitated by an administrator, usually the Academic Affairs leader: a dean or VP. The target of mobbing is almost always a non-tenured, middle-class, young and well-liked professor or a long-standing, tenured and  senior faculty member."

"The trigger incident is benign in order that the administration has access to control it's narrative.  The outcome is almost always imposing disciplinary action on the unsuspecting non-tenured faculty member, and exploiting the characteristic emotional instability in the tenured professor. " Howarth added.

According to Howarth, "The academic affairs facilitator then acquires the resources and influence from Human Resources to persuade the tenured faculty member to pursue recourse with their union.  The escalation of paper purposely trails on a fast track toward internal law enforcement.  An HR director's goal is to massage the tenured employee to report allegations that require little to no evidence to substantiate and hardly any power to enforce: harassment.  The tenured professor is usually quieted by direction from HR, as they could sabbatical the validity of the harassment claim."

Howarth noted that, "Court records in the Framingham State University case demonstrate the most reliable evidence that academic mobbing is at play: the 'the victim who readily discloses to media outlets.'"

Victims who aggressively reveal their identity with an on-going investigation of harassment and a harassment order in play disrespect the resources of the court. Swedish academic mobbing cases readily treat the alleged victim who pursues public disclosure as committing tortious interference."

Tortious interference charges are controversial because they impose a distinction between speech freedom and speech privilege.  When an alleged victim is complicit to engaging in publicity about an individual who has allegedly harassed them, they harm the credibility and integrity of the order with every word they convey.

Howarth added that, "'People who obtain a  restraining order out of a genuine need are in fear for their safety, and do not publicize their their grievances on an alleged defendant in any way. Publicity has historically provoked undue and avoidable retaliation."

"Legislation in the United Kingdom. USA and Canada holds that victims who publicly name their alleged victimizer is just as well perjuring their restraining order's credibility and civic integrity.  Violation of harassment orders are almost always quashed following an alleged victim's revelation of the defendant and details in regard to affidavits and police reports they submitted to police,"  Howarth added.

Howarth further stated, "A victim's public behavior may likely be wantonly and maliciously considered as a revenge tactic for unfulfilled intentions they had when first obtaining the restraining order. This circumstance conveys an ex post facto admission that the original order was fraudulent, and can result in a variety of criminal and civil charges."

These charges may include charges for intentionally filing a false police report, slander, defamation, liability for causing law enforcement to unnecessarily expend public funds to investigate false allegations and perjury.

"Victims who journalistically disclose their alleged harasser's identity is waving a red flag of false pursuance of the order, to the extent that it is virtually unheard of on the United Kingdom, The United States and Canada, for alleged victims to willingly pursue, comply with and participate in news coverage of their alleged harasser in an ongoing investigation."   Haworth stated.

Audits for perjury are not uncommon when an alleged victim shows a zealous willingness to comment in the news prior to investigation closure.

 Freelance compatriot journalist Maureen Hunt-Yellick added that, "When an alleged victim is willing to pursue and offer substantial feedback to the 'published public' on harassment charges and any related criminal allegations, courts historically call into question the credibility of the affiant."

Hunt-Yellick added that, "a 'smoking gun' that perjurious and injurious behavior has been committed by a plaintiff upon a so-called defendant is whether or not the plaintiff specifies the defendant's motive to the published public, and then changes that motive to this audience in later publications."

This investigation discovered the inconsistency a month prior to Hunt-Yellick's "smoking gun" contribution.  "Poor review, discrepancies in resume, a grant, pending termination," are just a few incongruous reasons provided by the "victim" in Johnson's case.

Hunt-Yellick elaborates that, "Victims virtually never make public statements about open harassment charges they filed.  A willingness to disclose substantial details for journalists denotes that the affiant did not possess a credible level of emotional distress or alarm warranting the successful fruition of harassment charges.  It is alarming how often and willingly the alleged "victim" consented to commenting publicly about her own alleged harassment, and how often she entirely changed the reasons why it happened."

Hunt-Yellick added that a reasonable affiant essentially forfeits their claim of emotional distress and alarm by voluntarily and willfully offering an abundance of published feedback on an open harassment case.  They also disqualify the infliction of a "reasonable person" requirement.  Alleged victims who press harassment charges, or any charges for that matter, injure their claims and credibility, because the defense can use the alleged victim's feedback as a vital and intuitive tool that contradicts the requisite level of distress and alarm. Many precedent cases hold that an alleged victim voluntarily commenting publicly on their open case because any sign that they arguably publicized privileged and personnel related information expresses contempt for the resources they sought from the court.  In other words   a violation of this privilege by the alleged victim has precedently been deemed retaliation by the alleged victim.  It is then admissible for the defendant to submit that the affiant is exploiting the court's resources and limiting their potential to protect the alleged victim. The alleged victim injured their credibility because public disclosure, although legal, will call into question the veracity and integrity of the distress and alarm they felt from the defendant.

Hunt-Yellick concluded that, "A legitimate harassment claim does not demonstrate unreliable testimony from the complainant.  A lawful claim of harassment does not tolerate publication of privileged fact or false statement of fact. Legal review and precedent holds that an alleged victim of harassment expels the integrity of their harassment claim by participating in wanton press coverage with suggestive or overt punitive editorial of the defendant.  In other words, in my personal opinion, the university and the "victim" "cooked" this complaint.  It is textbook academic mobbing directed at Johnson."

Courts can neither tolerate nor justify legally admissible however  voluntary  punitive treatment of defendants.  To reiterate, the  result is a corruption of the court's litigious assistance that the alleged victim requested after the initial harassment claim.  

Mr. Johnson could not be reached for comment on the morning of 4/29/13.  No phone calls were returned on 4/29/13. 

According to former student Aaron Chase, "Jeff [Johnson] is the most docile person I ever met."

Mr. Chase stated that since the individual who filed these charges may still be teaching, he [Johnson] may not want to comment because it was not in the best interest of former, present or current students.

Mr. Chase studied Public Speaking under Johnson in the summer 2009.  Chase added, "When I heard about this matter, it felt like I was kicked in the stomach.   But I always knew Jeff was innocent and these charges were bogus."

Another student Alla Stackland added, "Everyone in the loop knew that Jeff [Johnson] was innocent.  Nobody commented on the charges other than students."

"Nontenured and part-time faculty are the most vulnerable targets of academic mobbing," Strickland added. "There is much less liability for a college or university to target the non-tenured professor regardless of any legal or moral dilemma. Conflicts involving the pairing of one tenured and one non-tenured professor, unions, colleagues and administrators are well-versed, ahead of time, in the institution's potential  liability, and very often they feel they can move more cost efficiently on the non -tenured party.  Administrations lack of pursuance to rid this problem and elevate the morale of the academic and collegiate culture is a testament to the chronic problem of academic mobbing. 

"Colleagues are unlikely to openly support the target openly out fear of retaliation, and job loss," Strickland added.

Tigrel added, "The more recent the incidents of academic mobbing are, the more disturbing they reverberate."

After an exhaustive review of public court documents and affidavits provided by Framingham, Johnson fits almost the entire criteria according to American expert Joan Friedman's extensive research on mobbing characteristics both foreign and domestic.

According to Friedman, "First, mobbing victims are typically productive, inner- directed individuals who also often act on their principles. Their productivity in higher education may also include successful grant procurement (personal observation). They are also often a little different. You might have noticed that our mobbing victim was foreign-born, had accented speech, came from a working class background, and, unlike colleagues, was religiously observant. The results of several studies in Europe suggest that woman are mobbed more than men (Meschkutat, Stackelbeck, & Langenhoff...however these results are controversial and may be influenced by women’s willingness to report this embarrassing phenomenon more.

Fear of retaliation was both warranted and precedented.  According to public court documents, this is not the first time a member(s) of Framingham State University's administration allegedly used tactics to injure the professional fitness of a faculty member.  

Vice President of Academic Affairs  Linda Vaden-Goad was concurrently one of several defendants in a civil litigation matter in Connecticut.   

Professor Rosalie Appel, a tenured Art Professor of nearly 40 years at Western State Connecticut University (herein referred to as  WCSU) experienced  discrimination and professional misconduct at the hands of administrators.  

Court documents show WCSU administrators violated legal and civil rights of Ms. Appel.  According to court records, among these administrators was Ms. Linda Vaden-Goad (herein referred to as Vaden-Goad),  the now current Vice President of Academic Affairs at Framingham State University. 

Three  other administrators at WCSU were also found to have violated Ms. Appel's rights.  The egregious way Appel was treated also violated union and even legal standards.  According to court documents, the civil infractions against Appel were initiated by Vaden-Goad. 

Vaden-Goad et al. began an alleged mobbing campaign by making Appel the target of an unsanctioned petition against Appel..  Vaden-Goad approached the WCSU Art faculty to mobilize a department-wide petition in protest Appel's alleged  behavior.  

Following the petition, Vaden-Goad et al. founded a special assessment committee to examine Appel‟s conduct and develop an action plan to address any problems the Committee identified, ultimately calling for Appel to undergo a neuropsychological and projectives assessment.

Court records indicate that Ms. Appel's confidential medical records were accessed by administrators.  By law, access to medical records is prohibited by any subject unless permitted otherwise.  However Ms. Appel gave no such permission.

Ms. Appel was not successfully contacted for comment.

The most unbecoming factor was Vaden-Goad et al.'s due process violation clause of the 14th Amendment in ordering Appel to submit to a psychiatric exam while intending to access Appel's mental health record and the results of the exam.

The recent Framingham State University matter sounds an alarm that continued arrogant, unethical, union-violating and illegal behavior was not quelled by this WCSU case. Reports of grant investigations, teaching quality and adviser competence against Johnson and countless others are common publication items that university administrations use to "attack the target".  

These target strategies are meant to suggest suspicion because investigations took place.  University officials, especially those in the public sector, do not publish any counterfactual or meretricious proceedings on current or former employees, and jargon such as "investigation" functions in school press to transfer guilt and defamatory suggestion onto the "target".  

By law, receipt or provision of monies exceeding $5,000 are always subject to investigation.  Even more, banks are required to report funds transacted in excess of $4999.99 to the IRS.  

According to tax consultants Ernst & Young, financial advisers for the Oslo Atrium, Christian Frederiks Plass, and financial consultants in the United States, "An investigation of Johnson's grant is an article that could be written about anyone who receives grant money in excess of $5,000."  

Court records show that Mr. Johnson solely informed a former university advancement director of applying for the funds and receipt of a pledge.  The Assistant District Attorney corroborated this fact on the record in pretrial proceedings.  

A representative for the NFIE, an organization through which the monies were pledged to Johnson, confirmed that, "We maintain a strong climate of privacy and anonymity about our grant activity.  Our mission is to grant funds directly to recipient without administrative sifting of funds."

They added, "Many universities and institutions have delayed the progress of grants by presuming they have a right to a portion of the funds.  It is not uncommon for this misunderstanding to lead to trumped up disciplinary action."

The NFIE strongly encourages institutions to observe that there is no guarantee of administrative entitlement to the funds. They urge institutions to study [their] philosophy about grant privacy.  They stress that privacy and anonymity is a means to help prospective recipients use their affiliates' funding as they see fit. 

The NFIE corroborate that the grant was at their pledge stage.  They noted a  receipt of a copy of an email sent to Campus Currents, in which Johnson solely reported his application and pledge status with the grant.

After lengthy court proceedings, Appel‟s due  process claim was deemed to have merit to proceed against Rinker, Spiridon and Vaden-Goad. Appel‟s 2006 claim of First Amendment retaliation claim was also deemed substantive and having merit.  Also, Appel's claim of First Amendment retaliation arising out of a claim filed a year earlier will proceed against Spiridon and Vaden-Goad. 

Appel established a substantive case to proceed against Vaden-Goad et al.  in their official and individual capacities.  See the following court documents which outline the case.  

Note: Charles Dusman is a freelance journalist for the London Times.  This article's intent ls to report the sizable that  international/sc o academic mobbing. 

Note the following selected public documents:

Bibliography of Spiridon v. Appel Records

December 2006

June 2008

July 2008

August 2010

August 2011 
(concurrent with Framingham State University matter.


September 2011

January 2012

As of 2012

March 2013

References

Friedman, Joan. "The Anatomy of Academic Mobbibg." Academic Mobbing (2009): 64. Print.
Journal ArticleTagsEditDelete

E. Yelgecen Tigrel and O. Kokalan, "Academic Mobbing in Turkey," International Journal of Behavioral, Cognitivex   Cxx, Educational and Psychological Sciences (1:2 2009), pp. 91-99. CThis a

About the Author & Contributors

Charles Dusman, author, is a freelance reporter on London, UK.

Elvgin Tigrel is a professor of Istanbul E. University 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

1) Jayne Howarth, Freelance Journalist.

2) Maureen Hunt-Yellock Freelance Journalist, London;  Free Press Online Contributor