In response to a complaint filed against it late Friday (Feb 13) with the U.S. Dept. of Education by Security on Campus Inc., West Virginia University General Counsel Tom Dorer Saturday (Feb. 14) issued the following statement:
WVU is very saddened that this organization acted so imprudently, especially without first contacting the University to discuss the matter, therefore without full information. At most, Security on Campus has a disagreement with the Universitys legitimate, good faith interpretation of applicable crime reporting standards. We are confident the Universitys interpretation is correct and we would cooperate fully with any U.S. Dept. of Education inquiry.
The complaint by Security on Campus stems from the verdict in a civil action in which a jury ruled one former and two current Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers were treated differently than co-workers, and one was fired for making good faith reports of inaccurate crime reporting, and awarded a total of $868,000 in damages.
Following the verdict, WVU officials indicated they would challenge the verdict, maintaining that DPS reported crime statistics properly under all state and federal laws and that authorities did not retaliate against the officers.
Evidence at trial indicated that one officer was discharged for falsifying his employment application. University officials also believe the testimony at trial demonstrated that the plaintiffs were treated the same as fellow employees.
The officers are claiming that reports over several yearstime were changed or falsified and that they were retaliated against for bringing forth those claims,Dorer said.Evidence presented at trial showed that, in fact, only approximately 20 out of thousands of reports from that time period were at issue. In each of these few cases, testimony and exhibits showed that WVU s records were appropriate.
Less than half of the approximately 20 reports in question were actually changed, Dorer noted, and in most cases supervisors simply added missing data. In two cases, supervisors felt that the crime had been misidentified.
These are the types of minor and appropriate report changes we are talking about,Dorer said.Put simply, there was no wrongdoing or falsification of documentssupervisors were simply following the law. And, indeed, the jury verdict does not say that WVU ever falsified records. It finds only that we retaliated because of good faith complaints from the officers, without determining that the complaints were valid. As to the jurys conclusion, we respectfully disagree.
The motion for a judgement as a matter of law and in the alternative for a new trial will be filed late next week, Dorer said.