The Yale Corporation has decided to appoint a special committee to consider Professor Antonio C. Lasaga’s appeal of Yale President Richard Levin’s decision to fire the former Saybrook master. The special committee, which made up of four corporation members, will read and evaluate submissions from Lasaga and the University.
On Friday, the special committee sent letters to both Lasaga and the University asking them to submit written arguments by a certain date.
Prior to this action, the Corporation had had the option to act as an entire body to adjudicate the matter or to appoint either a standing committee or a special committee of no fewer than four trustees when they received Lasaga’s appeal. Yale’s trustees also elected to read written submissions as opposed to listen to oral arguments from both sides.
In revoking Lasaga’s tenure, Levin acted on a recommendation of the University Tribunal, Yale’s highest disciplinary body. Lasaga then invoked his right to appeal the decision to the Yale Corporation. The dismissal would be official if the Corporation upholds Levin’s ruling.
Senior Corporation fellow Kurt Schmoke ’71 said appointing a special committee of trustees to read written submissions was “the best way to proceed.”
Lasaga said his lawyer at Yale will make a “big” announcement in response very soon, possibly today.
“We’re about to break silence,” Lasaga said. He added that there are more problematic issues than the methods of the Corporation’s handling of his case.
“There are bigger issues here,” Lasaga said.
Last February, Lasaga admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of computer files containing child pornography and possessing two video tapes showing a 13-year-old boy engaged in sexual acts in a Yale geology classroom and the Saybrook master’s house. His guilty pleas were part of an agreement with prosecutors that recommended U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson sentence Lasaga to 11 to 14 years in prison.
Sentencing in the case, which began over two years ago, is still on hold pending the resolution of a motion to dismiss one of two guilty pleas.
Schmoke said the Corporation decided how it would proceed before it received notice of Lasaga’s appeal. Schmoke called specific trustees and asked if they would join the special committee. After they agreed, the remaining Corporation members were consulted.
Schmoke said he is one of the members of the special committee, but he would not disclose the names of the other three trustees.
The committee set a deadline for both parties to submit all material pertaining to the case, but Schmoke would not reveal the date.
“We’re hoping to proceed in a timely fashion,” Schmoke said. “But there may be a request for an extension, and we want to be flexible.”
Schmoke’s desire to proceed in an efficient manner follows on the heels of the University Tribunal’s nine-month long evaluation of the Lasaga case. The five-member Tribunal, appointed by Levin last May and chaired by Nobel-prize winning professor Sidney Altman, recommended to Levin that Lasaga be dismissed from the University. Lasaga elected to keep the Tribunal’s proceedings secret.
If the Corporation rules to uphold Levin’s decision, Lasaga has no other means to appeal within the University.