SMU Says Professor's Claims of Sex and Nazi Fetishism in Human Rights Program Are B.S.

SMU agrees with a number of points former professor Patricia Davis made in the rather wild lawsuit she filed last month. Both agree, for example, that Davis is a woman, that SMU has 11,000 students and that Davis worked at the school until she was fired last October from her position as associate director of the Embrey Human Rights Program.

Where opinions start to differ is on the conduct of Rick Halperin, a well-respected academic and Davis' former boss at Embrey. She says he's a Nazi-obsessed sex fiend. The university (and Halperin's colleagues) say that's not true.

In a response to the lawsuit filed yesterday afternoon, SMU goes through Davis' allegations point-by-point, denying that anything improper occurred. Yes, Halperin did meet with female students alone in his office, but no, he didn't have sex with them. Yes, Davis did make numerous allegations against Halperin and call him a "predator," but no, there was zero evidence to support her claims. And, yes, a dean did once refer to Halperin as a "pied piper," but no, he didn't mean that he was leading children to slaughter.

"SMU admits that there is a fairy tale involving a pied piper but is without sufficient information or knowledge as to the content of the tale and, therefore, denies the remaining allegations," the school writes in a court filing.

The details out of the way, SMU gets to the heart of Davis' legal claim: that she was illegally fired for blowing the whistle.

Not true, the school says. "[A]ll decisions made with respect to [Davis'] employment were made for legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons." They would have fired her whether or not she filed complaints about Halperin. They don't say why, but they indicate that they had plenty of cause.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson