A former University of Connecticut professor who made national headlines when video of his on-campus rant against a Christian preacher went viral is now suing UConn for $20 million for defamation.
Prof. James Boster, who taught anthropology, was fired in 2015 after the university’s Institutional Board of Review determined he had engaged in “research misconduct.”
But Boster claims the board rendered its decision based on a number of accusations made by a Szymon Wichary, a psychology professor Boster worked with in Poland. The two men worked together when Boster was teaching and conducting research at Jagiellolian University in Krakow.
The emails were included as part of Boster’s filing with the court.
In an email to Boster and other UConn professors – including Boster’s wife, a UConn history professor – Wichary accused Boster of alcoholism, poor anger control, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and “stalking.”
One email reads, in part, “If you want to play these games, then perhaps I should make public that you had love affairs while staying in Poland and that you were officially accused of sexual abuse by a student of Jagiellonian University, while you taught courses there?”
Wichary wrote that Boster had been sending “manipulative emails and verbal abuse” toward Wichary’s wife because she had refused to fill out Boster’s research questionnaire. At one point Wichary threatens to “inform the police” of Boster’s “threatening emails” to him and his wife.
Boster has denied all these allegations in the court documents.
Wichary wrote in a second email to UConn anthropology professor, Sally McBrearty:
“I decided to write to you as a reaction to James Bosters’ manipulative emails and verbal abuse directed toward my wife. His recent actions and words as a response to her not wanting to fill in his research questionnaire are completely out of proportion and we feel threatened by his words, actions and mindset. I will forward you the emails that he sent to my wife and me, which we find manipulative and we feel threatened by them. They fulfill the definition of stalking.”
Boster was placed on paid administrative leave in August of 2014 when the accusations surfaced but was not terminated until June of 2015, according to information provided by the Connecticut Auditors of Public Accounts.
During his leave of absence he continued to receive his $120,000 salary, according to the legislature’s transparency website.
Boster claims these emails were circulated throughout the department and resulted in him being fired under the guise of research misconduct.
An email from UConn anthropology professor Pamela Erickson to McBrearty stated she was hoping the issue between Boster and Wichary would end. “It will be great if this can have an end to it at last.”
“The larger issue is that he escapes formal accusations of sexual misconduct although colleagues know and no one seems willing to come forth but some student in Poland,” Erickson wrote in the emails.
The lawsuit by Boster claims there were no formal sexual abuse allegations. Boster is representing himself. On February 6, he was given an extension to serve notice to the defendants.
UConn officials declined to comment on Boster’s removal.