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The Orion

A final wrap up of Stachura

The employment settlement said both Stachura and Chico State would drop any ongoing lawsuits between the two entities
Chico State, David Stachura. Photo credit Chico State

David Stachura did not receive a severance package when he resigned Feb. 14, but he did receive a windfall of sorts, in that he does not have to pay attorney fees.

Stachura benefited financially from a prolonged paid administrative leave — $138,110.68 — and over $26,000 in waived attorney’s fees a judge said he owed the university, court documents state.

“I can’t speak to the decisions that went into the settlement agreement, I can only tell you that [the decision to waive the fees] came after months of thoughtful and exhaustive deliberation on how to best support this campus moving forward,” university communications executive director, Ashley Gebb, said.

The employment settlement said both Stachura and Chico State would drop any ongoing lawsuits between the two entities. Additionally, Stachura would be barred from working within the California State University system ever again.

This ends the several-year battle between the professor and the university which started in 2020 when he was investigated for having inappropriate relations with a graduate student he supervised.

As was first reported by EdSource, Stachura allegedly made deadly threats to colleagues who he believed reported his behavior.

Afterward, several members of the biology department were interviewed, among many others, to assess his alleged threat to the university and his colleagues.

These faculty members,his now ex-wife Miranda King said, would allegedly be violently targeted by Stachura who had recently purchased weapons and ammunition. This was not discovered until King gave court testimony that was later reported by EdSource.

Documents showed that the university police chief Christopher Nicodemus said there were grounds for Stachura to be terminated after the university discovered the alleged threats to colleagues. A former FBI agent hired by the university to assess Stachura’s threat to campus safety offered a similar, but less definitive, conclusion.

However, a Campus Violence Consultation Team — in which the UPD police chief was a dissenting member — and an independent attorney said the university followed appropriate protocol in sustaining Stachura’s employment.

Being aware of Stachura’s student affair and the alleged threats to colleagues, former Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson awarded Stachura Outstanding Professor in the 2020-21 school year.

He was also granted a promotion to full professor. More information that circulated around the same time was his recently purchased weapons and recommendations by the UPD police chief and a former FBI agent for his termination, however, it is unclear whether Hutchinson knew this information.

Multiple attempts to reach Hutchinson for comment have been unsuccessful.

The investigation only became known to the public after a bombshell report was published by EdSource in December 2022.

Due to the outrage from the student body and faculty over concerns for public safety, Chico State put Stachura on paid leave Dec. 9, 2022. Only afterward did the institution file for a temporary restraining order from campus, which was eventually enhanced to a three-year order.

In a statement delivered to the campus via email, Hutchinson offered her first public sign of distress.

“The employee featured in the article [Stachura] never would have been allowed to return to campus if the University believed he posed a danger to our campus community,” Hutchinson wrote in an email.

This led to former provost Debra Larson’s spring 2023 resignation, as she was the university official who signed off on Stachura’s suspension for his affair with his graduate student.

Larson bore the brunt of the consequences as the Academic Senate declared a vote of no confidence in her for signing off on his perceived light punishment. Hutchinson did not receive the same scrutiny from the Academic Senate. Hutchinson later retired on June 30, 2023.

Attempts to reach former provost Larson were also unsuccessful.

In February 2023, the university sued Stachura for workplace harassment. Two days later, he filed a defamation suit against the faculty members he felt were making false and defamatory statements about him. From there, a year of court proceedings took place, with the defamation case being refused by a Superior Court judge.

Another investigation into Stachura began in March of that year, finishing in August, and found he had lied several times during the previous investigations, which the university claimed was grounds for their intent to terminate Stachura.

At this time, the defamation suit initiated by Stachura was thrown out, forcing Stachura to pay $62,500 in attorney fees, as well as $539.36 which were later absorbed by the university.

After Stachura’s resignation was effective, university spokesperson Andrew Staples said the university would not comment further about why Stachura was no longer employed. However, EdSource again discovered through a California Public Records request that Stachura resigned.

The university forfeited – in addition to the $138,000 he made on paid leave — another $62,500 of taxpayer funds.

Staples refused to explain to The Orion why the university — which on one hand claimed it was ready to fire Stachura — instead rewarded him by wiping away $62,500 of court-ordered debt.

Maki Chapman and Jenna McMahon can be reached at [email protected].

Correction: A misquote from Andrew Staples has been removed.

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About the Contributors
Jenna McMahon
Jenna McMahon, Multimedia Editor
Jenna McMahon transferred to Chico State in fall 2023 from Santa Barbara City College and is in her third-year as a journalism major as well as having added a global studies minor this year. This will be her first year on The Orion as the opinion editor having had past experience on The Channels at SBCC. After graduating she hopes to become a traveling journalist and hopefully work for National Geographic. In her free time she plays soccer for the club team at Chico State and loves to read, travel and anything to do with nature.
Maki Chapman
Maki Chapman, Reporter
Maki Chapman is a journalism major with a minor in German and is currently in his final year at Chico State. Having been interested in journalism for a long time now, he looks forward to working on The Orion again. In his free time he plays Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends. After graduation, he hopes to become a freelance journalist and writer.

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    Jaime // May 16, 2024 at 11:17 am

    Is it $26,000 or $62,500 in waived attorney fees?