Judge Allows Evidence of Fired Professor's No-Contest Plea

Judge Allows Evidence of Fired Professor's No-Contest Plea

Save Story
Leer en espaƱol

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A judge has ruled that a no-contest plea by fired Brigham Young University professor Richard Thwaits may be presented as evidence during the trial of his wrongful termination lawsuit.

Thwaits, former chairman of the animal and veterinary sciences department at BYU, pleaded no contest in 2001 to a third-degree felony of practicing medicine without a license. The plea was held in abeyance and dismissed after 18 months.

Thwaits was placed on paid academic leave in 2000, then fired in 2002, because of accusations of inappropriate relationships with students and providing veterinary medicine to students and other faculty members.

His lawsuit alleges wrongful termination, breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith.

His attorney, Evan Schmutz, opposed admission of the no-contest plea, contending that because Thwaits had remained out of trouble for the 18 months required for dismissal of the charge there was no sentencing phase.

Schmutz contended it would be unfair for BYU to argue that Thwaits had already been found guilty of similar allegations.

BYU attorneys said any information about Thwaits and his actions that was a factor in the decision to terminate his employment should be allowed during the trial.

"As of the date of termination, Dr. Thwaits had adamantly denied that he had ever given prescription medication to students," said Robert Clark, attorney for BYU. "BYU was faced with his denial, evidence to the contrary and then a plea in abeyance that has the effect of a plea of guilty."

Fourth District Court Judge Fred Howard dismissed Schmutz's motion, and ruled that the no-contest plea can be presented to the jury if the case goes to trial.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast