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Broadside Editor In Chief acquitted of defamation

 

Eric Ercanbrack
 The Broadside
 
 
 

 

 

Don Iler, editor in chief of The Broadside, who had been accused of defamaition was found not-guilty on Friday afternoon and was informed that no further sanctions would be issued, hours after an informal hearing that morning.
Don Iler, the editor and chief of The Broadside, attended a tape recorded informal hearing last Friday where Paul Wheeler, a mathematics teacher at COCC, was assigned to come to a disciplinary decision. The hearing, where Iler was suspected of defamation, was called in response to a filed incident report.
“Mr. Iler in his article entitled, ‘It Pays to Love ASCOCC’ made claims that were presented as fact, and in doing so defamed my reputation here on campus,” Rob Walker wrote in the report. In the article which Walker refers to, Iler wrote that Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College contracted Walker, who was dating Brenda Pierce, a council member at ASCOCC, to make short films.
“It’s a private matter” Brenda Pierce said when asked about Iler’s article. Pierce went on to say that the matter shouldn’t be discussed publicly by anyone at ASCOCC.

According to Erin Marlowe, advisor to the Broadside, Gordon Price said that the office of student life must investigate all complaints filed by students.

Iler was upset about the hearing progressing as far as it did.

“This shows a complete lack of regard toward the first amendment and freedom of the press. That’s what worries me the most.” Iler said before meeting with William Buchanan, Iler’s lawyer.

“We know what [Iler] has been accused of, but we don’t know the facts that resulted in defamation,” Buchanan said after Iler learned that the public, or even his lawyer could not attend the informal hearing. Iler’s lawyer, however, could attend a formal hearing as an advisor, according to COCC’s Rights and Responsibilities. The Rights and Responsibilities also state that the outcome of the disciplinary decision could have been anything from dismissing the charges, suspension, or ordering a formal hearing, of which the outcome cannot be appealed.

When asked what she hoped Wheeler’s decision would be, Erin Marlowe said, “My hope is the college will make the right decision here and will come out strongly in favor of free speech for student journalists.”

“It’s a first amendment issue and Oregon state law says they can’t dictate what we put in [The Broadside],” Iler said after the half hour long hearing.

Paul Wheeler had two business days to decide what disciplinary action, if any, should be taken.

However, a few hours after the hearing, Iler was informed that he had been acquitted of all charges.

Iler was told that no further sanctions would be pursued against him.

“I am happy that the First Amendment prevailed and that I no longer have to lose any more sleep over this incident.” Iler said after finding out the result.

You may contact Eric Ercanbrack at 
eercanbrack@cocc.edu
 
 

 

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. The complaint against Mr. Iller had absolutely nothing to do with the first amendment. Only an idiot who has not actually read the constitution before could come to a conclusion like that. All that Walker was requesting was that Iller’s advisor talk to him about not clearly labeling editorials as such and for the advisor to let him know that it is unprofessional to do a hit piece on a student without even interviewing them about the issue you are examining.

    In no way could that be considered an attempt to curtail free speech. Had ASCOCC tried to shut down the paper over this or if the Broadside was told not to print something, then it would be first amendment issue. Claiming 1st amendment on this issue is ridiculous and demeans credibility of the paper. It was a private student upset for the Broadside printing rumors and speculation about him and his employment with out even bothering to contact him first. Never did anyone try to say the Broadside does not have the right to print what ever they want, no matter how unprofessional or inaccurate it is.

    Also, the dismissal of the complaint is in no way an endorsement of validation of the Broadside’s hit piece on Walker. Rather it was Gordon Price saying he did not want to have to deal with it.

    The best advice for some one in a hole is to stop digging and the more the Broadside tries to make an issue out of this, the further into the hole their credibility goes. I love the Broadside, please stop making it look bad.

  2. Hey, John let’s keep the discussion civil, no name calling ok? I don’t agree with you. Whenever someone feels that their rights could be violated they need to stand up for them, right or wrong. The real danger is from those of us that sit and do nothing. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

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