Lawsuit by fired professor claims 14th Amendment violation against Texas State

Hays
Texas State University

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — A tenured professor at Texas State University fired in February over sexual harassment allegations in 2018 filed a lawsuit claiming he did not receive due process during the termination proceedings, court documents say.

Dr. David Wiley filed the lawsuit Tuesday against Texas State University, its president Denise Trauth and Dr. Karen Meaney, the chair of the university’s health and human performance department in which Wiley was a professor.

We reached out to Texas State for comment on this lawsuit, and they said they do not comment on active litigation.

The lawsuit claims during the Title IX investigation into the allegations, Dr. Wiley didn’t have a proper and fair chance to develop a defense to the sexual harassment allegations by four women he worked with, including Dr. Meaney. On the grounds of the allegations, the university fired him and revoked his tenure. That, in turn, violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution granting due process, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says the allegations were from 5-10 years ago, and involved hugging and non-romantic kissing on the cheek. The lawsuit claims Dr. Wiley received just partial notice of the complaints against him, and had very limited opportunity to defend himself.

It also claims the university issued the Title IX findings against Dr. Wiley without providing him notice and an opportunity to respond to them. The lawsuit says the complainants were able to draft statements together with their attorney, employed by the TSUS, and Dr. Wiley was not offered the same opportunity with his attorney because he didn’t know what the complaints entailed.

The lawsuit states that once Dr. Meaney was appointed the chair of the department in 2017, Dr. Wiley began experiencing “discriminatory behavior” and changes in the way he was treated by Dr. Meaney. Dr. Wiley described his relationship with Dr. Meaney as a “friendly, collegial working relationship.” Dr. Meaney previously was a colleague of Dr. Wiley before becoming his supervisor, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Dr. Meaney repeatedly insulted Dr. Wiley in front of colleagues, and Dr. Meaney tried to get Dr. Wiley removed from a coordinator position within the department. Once he was removed, for reasons he said he wasn’t sure of, he filed a grievance against Dr. Meaney, the lawsuit says.

During an informal mediation hearing about the grievance a month later between the two and a university ombudsman, the lawsuit says Dr. Meaney apologized to Dr. Wiley and wrote in an email, “I sincerely am striving to become a leader that unites people and moves our collective paths forward. I value your [Wiley’s] contributions to HHP and your honesty.”

Less than a month after that meeting, the lawsuit says Dr. Meaney found disgruntled faculty members and staff who were willing to pursue Title IX complaints against Dr. Wiley, and Dr. Meaney filed the complaint on behalf of those faculty members. Dr. Meaney wanted Dr. Wiley’s removed from the primary building the department was in and to be fired before an investigation began and before Dr. Wiley even knew what the allegations were, the lawsuit says.

The university issued no contact orders against Dr. Wiley for all four of the complainants.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents upheld the university’s decision to revoke Dr. Wiley’s tenure and fire him in February, after a 2 1/2-hour executive session to discuss it.

“The board does not believe any of the issues raised by Dr. Wiley require reversal of the Texas State University’s president’s decisions,” said regent Alan L. Tinsley at the time.

Dr. Wiley previously filed a lawsuit in 2018, but it was dismissed because the termination proceedings weren’t finished, the lawsuit says.

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