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UNH prof. cleared of criminal charges

A University of New Hampshire biochemistry professor who has been embroiled in a dispute with another faculty member was cleared of criminal charges on Tuesday (October 23). The district court of Durham, N.H., cleared linkurl:John Collins;http://biochemistry.unh.edu/Faculty/Collins/index.html of criminal charges of disorderly conduct and stalking, Collins told The Scientist. The charges, which were filed on June 29, came after Collins, then chair of the biochemistry department at UNH, was li

By | October 25, 2007

A University of New Hampshire biochemistry professor who has been embroiled in a dispute with another faculty member was cleared of criminal charges on Tuesday (October 23). The district court of Durham, N.H., cleared linkurl:John Collins;http://biochemistry.unh.edu/Faculty/Collins/index.html of criminal charges of disorderly conduct and stalking, Collins told The Scientist. The charges, which were filed on June 29, came after Collins, then chair of the biochemistry department at UNH, was linkurl:banned;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53383/ from campus in June after an altercation in the biochemistry building. After he had received a parking ticket outside the department building, Collins allegedly made threatening comments about another staff member, linkurl:Stacia Sower;http://www.unh.edu/biochemistry/sower/sower.html , the dean of research. "We feel that the verdict is certainly a vindication," said Collins, who gave his first public account of the incident at the trial. And the verdict showed that "the action of the University in banning me was for reasons that have been shown not to be true." The trial -- which lasted three hours -- was held before a judge only; four people testified on behlf of the prosecution and two people testified on behalf of Collins. One of the defense witnesses was Gabrielle Giese, a Master's student in Collins' lab, where work on the SARC cancer gene has been suspended since June. Giese also did a lab rotation in Sower's lab for five weeks and found the experience disappointing, she told The Scientist. "[Sower's] quite paranoid and she won't let you do very much in the lab," said Giese. "She made us wash dishes and label test tubes; we did pipette exercises you do as an undergrad, that's about all we did. She didn't want us touching her experiments." Sower and a member of her lab did not respond to requests for comment. A hearing will continue in New Hampshire Superior Court on Tuesday (October 30), to determine whether a restraining order requested by Sower against Collins should be made permanent. Collins said he does not expect to hear from UNH administrators about whether he will be reinstated until after that hearing is concluded. In August, the university linkurl:offered;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53581/ for him to return to his post as a professor, but told him he was being unseated as department chair, and that he had to take anger management class and write a formal apology to Sower and the university. UNH PR officials did not respond before this item was posted.
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Comments

Avatar of: Rick

Rick

Posts: 2

October 27, 2007

Everyone knows that Stacia doesn't like John. She filed these charges strictly for the purpose of harming him socially, financially, and professionally. Even though the court recognized that the charges had no validity, Stacia has succeeded in costing John a lot of money and embarrassment and she has prevented him from getting a significant amount of lab work done in the past several months. She should be punished for her actions. UNH should be ashamed that they ever requested that he write a formal letter of apology to her.
Avatar of: Rick H. Cote

Rick H. Cote

Posts: 1

October 29, 2007

I was told by a colleague that a comment posted on this blog could be mis-attributed to me. Just for the record, I am not the author of the "Incomplete Justice" comment signed by "Rick."\nSincerely,\nRick Cote\nProfessor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology\nUniversity of New Hampshire\n
Avatar of: Rick

Rick

Posts: 2

November 5, 2007

I'm the student who posted the "Incomplete Justice" comment and I would like to assure everyone that Professor Cote had nothing whatsoever to do with it. I stand by my comments, of course, as I stand by my decision not to post my last name. Nonetheless, some people in the community know who I am and others could probably guess. If anyone contacts me, I'll answer them truthfully.\n\nMeanwhile, UNH's failure to show any signs of support for John Collins following his acquittal concerns me. The way this turns out will certainly affect my feelings toward UNH when I become an alumnus.
Avatar of: Laura

Laura

Posts: 2

November 8, 2007

As the wife of John Collins, I'd like to thank Rick for his courage to post his strong feelings in a climate where many people are unwilling to make public comments at all. John has been cleared of any criminal charges, everyone knows he is no threat at all to Stacia Sower, and there is little doubt that she will be unsuccessful in her attempts to impose a permanent restraining order on him. Yet the university has stated that this does not affect their position on his standing at the university, meaning that it does not affect their decision to uphold the ban. What is the basis for the ban?\n\nI am not in any way trying to belittle his actions, but does kicking a garbage can and yelling warrant this response? No one at UNH can seriously believe that he is going to kill Stacia Sower. He has explained that those words were in response to Bernie's comments that he "release his anger". His response "Do you mean like this???..." kicks a garbage can, yells, etc... while inappropriate, were clearly mocking and not literal. So why the overly harsh response? It is very hard to understand. \n\nHe has been banned from campus now for over 4 months. He has been kept from his work, his graduate student has been put on hold, and he isn't even allowed to drive onto campus to drop off his 14 year old son at hockey practice. Instead of being dropped off close to the locker rooms, he has to walk several hundred yards from the main street (technically Durham, not UNH) with a heavy bag full of hockey equipment. It has affected his ability to assist his oldest daughter, a freshman at UNH. He can no longer take our 2 year old daugther to feed the horses at the UNH stables, a pastime they both immensly enjoyed. Why???? He has never been told the reason by the university. The judge did grant a temporary restraining order to Stacia Sower until the matter could be heard in the courts, but they indicated that all he had to do was avoid her as best he could. So why the response from UNH?\n\nSeveral people have testified strongly on John's behalf at the criminal trial and at the restraining order hearing and it is very much appreciated, especially because of the vindictive nature of who we are dealing with. But given the university's position, I am afraid that it is time to do more. \n\nI wholeheartedly agree with Rick when he states that the university should be ashamed that they have asked John to write a letter of apology to Stacia Sower. Fine, he can apologize for kicking a garbage can and yelling, but how about making her apologize for trying to ruin his life?\n\n

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