KAMLOOPS — A professor at the newest law school in Canada is suing the program’s former interim dean for defamation alleging she spread a rumour to edge him out as competition and maintain her higher ranking role at the university.
Craig E. Jones, a professor at the recently established Thompson Rivers University law school, filed a notice of civil claim on July 23 against interim dean and co-founder of the school, Anne Pappas, after she allegedly told a student, a professor and others Jones was carrying out a romantic affair with one of his single co-workers, who became pregnant with twins.
In the claim, Jones says the rumour began in Aug. 2013 shortly after then-dean of the program Chris Axworthy announced his departure from the university. As the associate dean of the program, Jones says he was eligible to assume Axworthy’s responsibilities and accuses Pappas of slandering him in order to take the role herself. He claims in filings faculty members were opposed to Pappas assuming the interim dean position over Jones and communicated that to university officials.
"When she became aware of these communications, and notwithstanding that Jones was not among those who were opposing her continuing as interim dean, Pappas came to view Jones as a rival for the deanship and believed he was undermining her in what had become a 'power struggle' between her and the majority of faculty members,” the claim says.
The university appointed Pappas as the interim dean. Jones and fellow professor Janna Promislow approached the university’s general counsel to discuss the alleged rumour from Pappas, reverse the damage and offer evidence to the contrary, including a paternity test to prove Jones was not the father of Promislow’s twins, the claim says.
After several approaches, the university investigated the incident and by June, determined Pappas made a false claim, the statement says.
"The University concluded that these false statements included those to the effect that Jones and Professor Promislow were having an affair, and that Jones was the father of Professor Promislow’s children," the claim says.
Jones alleges he received a letter from the associate vice president of human resources confirming Pappas made the statements and did so “in order to undermine Professor Jones’s credibility as a suitable administrator in the law school."
The claim says both professors were barred from releasing the document by the university’s president, Alan Shaver, whom Jones says Pappas threatened with legal action. Pappas departed from the university in June.
"As of the time of the filing of this Notice of Civil Claim no disciplinary action has been taken against Pappas, she remains an employee of TRU, and the University continues to present her absence as something other than as a termination by the University for cause as a result of her behaviour,” the claim says.
The university issued a statement that Pappas left to “recharge her batteries” according to the claim, but Jones alleges she departed because of wrongdoing. He says the university did not issue a public statement to address the claims and refute the rumour.
"The Defamatory Statements and Pappas’s efforts to prevent the University from responding completely and appropriately to them have required Jones and Professor Promislow to defend themselves by revealing and discussing aspects of their personal lives that should properly remain private,” the claim says.
Jones says the alleged rumour caused him significant stress in his personal and professional life which made him lose work opportunities as he tried to clear his name and reputation.
A statement of response has not been filed by Pappas, the sole defendant in the case. None of the allegations have been discussed or proven in court.
Attempts to reach Pappas for comment were unsuccessful. A secretary with the faculty says Pappas is no longer at the university; her name was removed from the university employee directory.
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