Editor’s note: Max McCoy, professor of journalism, is named as a defendant in the complaint against the university. McCoy is adviser to The Bulletin and was adviser during the Jane story coverage. In an effort to avoid a conflict of interest, McCoy did not advise on this story and will not advise on subsequent coverage. Kelsey Ryan, a former Bulletin editor, will advise The Bulletin on this coverage.
A complaint was filed against Emporia State and five employees by Brian Schrader, a former professor of psychology, in which he alleges that he was the victim of reverse sex discrimination and was falsely accused of sexual misconduct.
Schrader was at the center of a campus controversy in Spring of 2017 after The Bulletin published the Jane stories, a series of articles about Jane, an anonymous student who alleged sexual misconduct against Schrader.
After a second student came forward alleging sexual misconduct against Schrader, he was forced to submit his resignation in December 2018, according to the complaint.
Allison Garrett, president, David Cordle, provost, Ray Lauber, director of Human Resources, Lisa Moritz, former ESU employee, and Max McCoy, professor of English, modern languages and journalism and Bulletin adviser, have all been named in the suit.
The complaint asks for ESU to pay Schrader’s “...back pay, including wage increases and reimbursement of any lost fringe benefits, retirement plan benefits, pension benefits, Social Security contributions, an award of front pay, emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, for punitive damages, for pre-judgment interest, for reasonable attorney fees, for costs, all in excess of $75,000.00.”
Schrader is being represented by Theodore Lickteig, a Lenexa based lawyer with experience in employment and business law.
The complaint alleges that McCoy, as a university employee, didn’t do enough to enforce the Non-Disclosure Agreement that both Schrader and J.J. (Jane) signed.
“Beginning in February, 2018, the University student newspaper, ‘The Bulletin,’ published several stories and articles regarding ‘J.J,’ (Jane) including quotations from ‘J.J.’ that contained false and defamatory statements about Schrader.”
However, McCoy had no grounds to prevent publication, according to Mike Heistand, senior legal counsel for Student Press Law Center.
“Unless the adviser actively encouraged and/or aided the student in violating the NDA she signed I don't see that he's done anything wrong,” said Heistand.“He was not a party to that agreement and, in the end, an adviser at a public college would have no legal authority to stop a student editor from publishing the student's remarks.”
Frank LoMonte, director of The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, said the First Amendment protects student journalists from prior review.
“First, and most importantly, the first amendment prohibits journalism advisers from telling students what they can and can’t publish, that’s very, very clear,” said LoMonte. “If the student journalists learn of a news story, even if the journalism adviser disapproves of the story, he has no authority constitutionally to stop it.”
Schrader did not respond to The Bulletin’s requests for an interview.