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Chico State’s investigation of embattled professor found to adhere to existing policies, report reveals
An independent investigation has determined that Chico State University followed proper procedures in handling the sex investigation involving suspended professor David Stachura. The investigation also found that the university did not inform faculty and students about Stachura’s alleged threats of gun violence on campus.
The university released a 20-page report by San Diego lawyer Nancy Aeling on Monday. This comes nearly a year after initial reports of Stachura’s inappropriate sexual relationship with a student and his alleged threats towards colleagues who cooperated in the investigation. Despite these allegations, Stachura was named the university’s Outstanding Professor for the 2020-21 school year.
“The university acted in accordance with policy by not notifying the Chico State community of Stachura’s alleged threats of violence,” wrote Aeling. Stachura’s estranged wife testified that he had expressed his intent to kill two professors involved in the investigation. Additionally, a biology lecturer testified that Stachura had spoken to her about committing a shooting in the biology department.
Aeling did not respond to a request for comment.
The report did not criticize the university’s Campus Violence Consultation Team, which recommended that Stachura be allowed to return to campus after investigating the threats. The team did not find that he posed a threat of violence.
Chico State Police Chief Christopher Nicodemus, a member of the team, testified that he disagreed with the team’s findings. In a court proceeding resulting in a three-year workplace violence restraining order against Stachura, Nicodemus stated that there were concerns about Stachura’s behavior.
Nicodemus emphasized the importance of caution when assessing threats, stating, “It’s safer to err on the side of caution.” He added that it would have been preferable to have wrongly terminated Stachura than to live with the consequences of a violent event.
In her report, Aeling clarified that she did not evaluate the appropriateness of Stachura’s actions or the responses of his colleagues. The report focused on determining whether the responses were reasonable and consistent with the governing policies and procedures. No policy recommendations were made.
A faculty union officer, Lindsay Briggs, criticized the report for not holding anyone accountable. She expressed disappointment over the lack of action and support for survivors of violence in the workplace.
Gordon Wolfe, a professor who provided court records regarding Stachura’s threat to kill witnesses, claimed that he was contacted by Chico State for an interview with Aeling but never received follow-up communication.
Stachura remains on administrative leave as the university completes its investigation into the alleged threats. He was recently ordered to pay over $64,000 in legal fees after an unsuccessful libel lawsuit against a lecturer. His lawyer did not provide a comment on Aeling’s report.
In a statement, Chico State President Stephen Perez acknowledged the thoroughness of the investigation and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to improve practices going forward.
The report indicated that former Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson considered both the sex case against Stachura and the alleged threats when approving his promotion to full professor in 2021. Hutchinson praised Stachura for his contributions to teaching, service, and research. Hutchinson retired in June and was unavailable for immediate comment.