Fired ETSU music professor claims “free speech” in appeal

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Fired East Tennessee State University music professor Dr. David Champouillon said even if the allegations against him were true, they are “protected free speech,” according to an appeal filed by his attorney.

His attorney filed the document with the ETSU Board of Trustees Thursday, according to the appeal obtained through a public records request.

In the appeal, Dr. Champouillon’s lawyer outlined 11 issues, many of them procedural, that they believe justify restoration of his employment and tenure.

Dr. David Champouillon’s attorney filed the document with the ETSU Board of Trustees. Click here to see a .pdf version of the document.

“The notice of charges filed against Dr. Champouillon listed approximately (60) different allegations,” the appeal said. “Dr. Champouillon denied most, if not all, of those allegations. However, if one assumes for the sake of discussion that they were all true, they nevertheless are not sufficient grounds for termination of a tenured faculty member in that they are protected free speech.”

In addition, Dr. Champouillon’s attorney argues the university cherry picked statements to help bolster efforts to fire him instead of seeking the truth.

He also told the board after Dr. Champouillon recently cleaned out his desk, he found a note from one of the witnesses, praising his support and guidance during her time as an undergraduate student. He argues that note contradicts her testimony.

Dr. Champouillon’s attorney also argues ETSU took part in unlawful procedure “in that his suspension and termination hearings were both conducted without a neutral hearing officer,” that the subsequent termination decision “was made without following progressive discipline in accordance with applicable (Tennessee Board of Regents) Policy” and that allegations of wrongdoing were raised “well outside the reporting periods set forth in TBR policy,” according to the appeal.

ETSU’s president fired the tenured professor after an internal investigation substantiated he sexually harassed two faculty members and behaved inappropriately in front of faculty and students.

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