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Feb 272013

Katie Sweeney/The Daily Tar Heel(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) — A University of North Carolina sophomore who accused a fellow student of rape says she’s facing possible expulsion because a student-government group claims she might have violated the college’s honor code by displaying “disruptive or intimidating behavior” toward her alleged rapist.

“The more I found out about what the actual charge was, I just realized that this is ridiculous,” Landen Gambill told ABC affiliate WTVD-TV. “I never mentioned his [the alleged rapist] name publicly. All I’ve done is talk about the university’s mistreatment of survivors.”

Gambill says she received a letter from a “graduate student attorney general” after she, along with three other students and a former UNC assistant dean of students, filed a complaint in January with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The complaint alleges that UNC-Chapel Hill did not assist students in recovery after they were victims of sexual assaults and routinely violated their rights.

Gambill filed a sexual-assault charge against her ex-boyfriend in the spring of 2012 via the school’s internal proceedings in its “Honor Court.” He was found not guilty, she told the school’s paper, The Daily Tarheel.

She apparently sought relief through the school rather than filing a police report. Gambill has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

Gambill said she received a notice via email Friday from the Honor Court charging her with an Honor Code violation for “disruptive or intimidating behavior” toward her alleged rapist. A guilty verdict in UNC Honor Court could lead to anything from a grade penalty to expulsion.

“Last week, I found out that rather than addressing the injustices survivors have suffered at the hands of the University or committee to ensure that no other survivors go through these things again, certain administrators have decided to continue their retaliation against me…” Gambill announced in a Facebook post.

Gambill said she was told in a preliminary Honor Court meeting by a representative that she might have violated the school’s honor code by simply saying that she was raped.

“I asked the graduate student attorney general whether I could have violated the Honor Code by saying I was raped. She replied, ‘Yes,’ Gambill told WTVD.

UNC’s undergraduate Honor Court is composed of undergraduate students from all backgrounds and majors, according to the school’s website. The court reviews allegations of misconduct to determine whether the school’s honor code has been violated.

The school has denied unfairly targeting Gambill. Karen Moon, a spokeswoman for UNC, said the school is unable to discuss the specifics of an Honor Court case or any allegations involving students, but points out that the charging decisions are made by the appointed student attorney generals, and not by campus administrators.

Therefore, the school says, a claim of “retaliation” is “without merit.”

In an email sent to ABC News, Moon also says a faculty advisory committee is available to the student attorney generals “for consultation in difficult cases.”

UNC developed a new process for responding to sexual assault complaints in August. They are no longer addressed by the Honor Court system.

The school points out that it has retained a top lawyer who deals with sexual misconduct issues, who has been on campus in the past few weeks to “guide an open and transparent conversation about how the issue of sexual assault affects the campus and culture that is focusing on education and engagement,” according to Moon’s written statement.

It’s unclear whether the policy change resulted from Gambill’s case.

Gambill told The Daily Tarheel that she plans to respond to the charges with a claim of not guilty.

“This is way bigger than me. I’m just one example of many,” she said. “I know there are many other people whose voices deserve to be heard.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Oct 232012

University North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Paul Frampton is seen in this undated photo. (Paul Frampton)(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) — A 68-year-old physics professor who has spent the past 10 months in an Argentine jail cell awaiting trial on drug charges has asked the University of North Carolina to give him a raise.

Paul Frampton, who is embroiled in litigation with the university to have his $107,000 salary reinstated while he is in prison, made his case in a letter to Provost Bruce Carney that he should also be paid twice as much.

“This is another example of his chutzpah,” said Mark Williams, a UNC math professor. “Most people would think its crazy for a man in prison to ask for a raise, but if you look closely, he has a good case.”

The physicist, who said he fell victim to a con artist in Argentina, wrote that he ranks 18th out of 28 professors in his department in terms of pay, despite the fact he is the department’s most-cited author.

Frampton has not received a paycheck since March 1, when the university placed him on leave. Under university policy, nine-month faculty members, such as Frampton, are eligible for up to 60 calendar days of paid leave per year.

“Professor Frampton remains a valued member of the faculty, and we hope he can and will return to campus to resume his duties when his personal circumstances permit,” UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon told ABC News. She declined to comment on Frampton’s request for a raise, citing the ongoing litigation.

The tenured professor has been awaiting trial since his Jan. 23 arrest, when authorities at the airport in Buenos Aires found 2 kilograms of cocaine in the lining of his luggage.

Frampton claims he fell into a “honey trap,” and had been visiting the country to meet up with a bikini model he met online. Instead, the professor came into contact with a man acting as an intermediary, who asked him to carry the model’s empty suitcase.

Supporters, such as Williams, who has known Frampton for 27 years, said they believe the professor was duped.

“He has been known to show terrible judgment in many situations,” Williams said. “He’s excessively naive and possibly pathologically naive for a person his age.”

As he awaits trial in Argentina, the decorated physicist has continued his research in the overcrowded Villa Devoto prison in Buenos Aires.

During his time in prison, Frampton has remained “extremely productive,” Williams said. The professor has written at least three articles, one of which has been published in a leading physics journal, and his citations have increased significantly, according to Williams.

“I think some people are going to be offended by Paul asking for a raise,” Williams said. “The important thing is even if Paul had not been in prison, he would still have an extremely strong argument. His salary is a disgrace, and it needs to be corrected.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oct 182012

Courtesy Hayleigh Perez(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) — The University of North Carolina system has told Hayleigh Perez, a U.S. Army veteran, that she was not a North Carolina resident and does not qualify for in-state tuition after she and her husband were on active duty for the past seven years.

Originally from Iowa, Perez, 26, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005 and was stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., before being deployed to Iraq in January 2007.  After serving there for 15 months, she returned to the U.S. in March 2008 and was honorably discharged in September 2009.

She and her husband, an active duty service member, bought a home in North Carolina and continued to pay property taxes for it while he was stationed in Texas.

When he was ordered back to North Carolina in April 2012, Perez applied to take classes at two University of North Carolina schools: Fayetteville State University (UNC’s FSU) and the University of North Carolina Pembroke (UNCP).

She decided to take spring classes at UNCP because of the program offerings, though the school did not categorize her as an in-state resident for tuition purposes.  Meanwhile, UNC’s FSU did label Perez, who last paid income taxes to the state of Iowa during her military career, as a North Carolina resident.

“I thought it would be easy to reverse the decision and appeal it because the other school classfied me as in-state and I had several documents that showed ties to North Carolina,” she said.  Those documents included bills and her voting record since 2004.

From January to March, she has been appealing the University of North Carolina to allow her to fully utilize the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which only covers in-state tuition.  The difference in tuition per semester is $4,603.50.  It might be a small amount to some, but she said it represents the university’s “hostile” treatment to veterans.  Without help from the university, she has relied on the help of the Student Veterans Advocacy Group.

The university ultimately rejected her claim.  Because she has been an at-home mom raising her 2-year-old daughter, she said her lack of income tax filings may have contributed to the university’s decision to reject her claim as a state resident.

The university said in a statement that the law, North Carolina G.S. 116-143.1, “mandates specific criteria for determining whether a person may be considered a resident for tuition purposes.”

“The actual determination of residency is a complex legal matter,” the university said.  “It is the student’s responsibility to provide the documentation necessary to support his or her claims for in-state residency for tuition purposes by the applicable deadlines.  Supporting documents should show evidence of the student’s physical presence in North Carolina for the requisite amount of time and creation of his or her domicile in North Carolina.”

The university said Perez “was given the opportunity to appeal the residency determination at the institutional level and to the State Residency Committee.  The State Residency Committee upheld the institution’s judgment that Ms. Perez was a non-resident.”

Perez counters that she and her husband have been service members for a majority of the last seven years and have called North Carolina their home while stationed elsewhere.

“I’m an American and I served our great country,” she said.  “My husband continues to serve and I don’t have a state of residency if North Carolina is not considering me a resident.”

Kyle Carter, Chancellor of UNCP, wrote a statement on Tuesday about veterans and Perez.

“We pride ourselves on being a military-friendly institution, a designation we have earned for the past six years.  Currently we serve more than 800 military personnel annually,” Carter wrote.  “We strive to provide services tailored to their needs, as illustrated by our Veteran Education and Transition Assistance Office, and, as part of our strategic plan, we are expanding our services by creating the Office of Military and Veterans Services.”

Perez’s description of her experience at the university differs with Carter’s account.  She said she felt there were few resources for veterans to transition into civilian student life.  Perez has applied to master’s programs, but is looking at private institutions, displeased, she says, with how UNC treats its veterans.  She said she is no longer fighting for her in-state tuition, but wants to advocate on behalf of other students.

“I honestly think at this point, it’s really a moot point as far as my specific case,” she said.  “Since I launched my petition, we’ve received emails from veteran students across the country that are running into the same roadblocks.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sep 102012

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) — Police are investigating the murder of a 19-year-old University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student, the second murder at the university in four years.

Undergraduate Faith Hedgepeth, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe of Hollister, N.C., was found dead in her off-campus apartment on Friday. Police said they are treating the case as a homicide, but do not think it was a random killing, according to ABC News affiliate WTVD.

Police said that Hedgepeth’s body was discovered by friends, though they have not identified the individuals, according to the report.

In 2008, student president Eve Carson was kidnapped from her home and taken to a series of ATMs to withdraw money before being killed. One of her killers pleaded guilty to the murder and another was found guilty earlier this year.

Now, counselors on UNC’s campus are once again being made available to help grieving students. Chancellor Holden Thorp sent an email to students following the discovery of Hedgepeth’s body, notifying them of the “sudden death of one of our students.”

“Law enforcement officials do not believe that there is danger to other students, faculty or staff,” he wrote, according to WTVD.

Hedgepeth was a biology major who worked as a waitress at a local Red Robin, according to the report.

Members of Hedgepeth’s family and tribe gathered Sunday for a vigil. The university also plans to hold a vigil today at on campus.

Calls to Chapell Hill police and the Hedgepeth family did not immediately return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio