Richard Morrisett thought his nightmare had ended.
The University of Texas-Austin pharmacology professor had taken a plea deal for a third-degree felony. He had battered a girlfriend who likely also battered him – and kept living with him even after she got a restraining order.
He was serving probation, doing community service and taking a class on “avoiding family violence.”
“Morrisett had thought he was moving on with his life. He had accepted responsibility for his actions and, moreover, had put an apparently volatile and dysfunctional relationship behind him,” according to an excellent feature in American Thinker.
Then #MeToo happened, and the Austin American-Statesman conspired with the campus mob to destroy his life.
“Banished from the campus to satisfy the mob and prevent disruptions, Morrisett killed himself approximately 65 days after the Statesman’s article was published,” writes freelance writer David Paulin.
Personnel records, evaluations and correspondence between Morrisett and UT officials, obtained by Paulin through an open-records records, paint a portrait of how the taxpayer-funded university surrendered to the mob.
The Statesman dug up Morrisett’s plea a year and a half later, noting the university had not sanctioned him. The administration said it found “no relation” between the incident with his girlfriend and “how he acted on campus,” so he continued teaching and lab activities.
After an internal defense of the school’s decision by Morrisett’s dean, M. Lynn Crismon, “The Statesman’s article set off a media feeding frenzy and campus uproar. Overnight, Morrisett became Public Enemy No. 1,” Paulin writes:
Enraged that a domestic violence abuser was in their midst, many students staged peaceful anti-Morrisett protests, chanting and marching while shadowed by campus police. Radical leftist students, however, went on a rampage. One night, students apparently affiliated with the Revolutionary Student Front, a communist group, stormed the College of Pharmacy like the blood-thirsty mob that stormed the Bastille. …
Some pharmacy students said they felt uncomfortable taking classes from Morrisett, whose courses were prerequisites. Parents’ groups also expressed concern about having a “violent felon” on campus. It was an untenable situation for university officials who were unable (or unwilling) to face down the campus mob and calm outraged students. Eventually, they decided that Morrisett had to go.
#MeToo had gone from targeting “high-profile villains” to a private figure who was paying his debt to society, had no history of troubling reports on campus and received acclaim from his superiors, Paulin writes.
The Statesman and other media outlets “enjoyed a symbiotic relationship” with the campus mob, covering every campus protest and egging them on:
The Statesman’s editors revealed much about their mindset when they plastered a photo across their front page of the vile anti-Morrisett graffiti at the College of Pharmacy. The photo, however, wasn’t taken by a Statesman photographer (who no doubt had arrived at the scene as the graffiti was being scrubbed away). Instead, the paper used a photo provided by the Revolutionary Student Front – a fact it unashamedly made clear with a photo credit: “Photo: Courtesy of the Revolutionary Student Front – Austin.” Some alert readers must have done a double take, and wondered: Would the Statesman have run a photo of a cross-burning with a comparable photo credit: “Photo: Courtesy of the Ku Klux Klan”?
Paulin points out the hypocrisy of the Statesman, which defended the right of a convicted murderer to run for city council – a black Muslim Democratic Socialist – even though he couldn’t legally hold office.
“As such, [the convicted murderer] was not a worthy target for the news media, student activists, and left-wing radicals who are allowed to run wild on campus thanks to seemingly feckless university administrators,” Paulin writes.
The university gave Morrisett an ultimatum in March: He must put forward “a specific plan regarding what you intend to do after this academic year ends,” and it must involving leaving campus.
A month later he killed himself. The original autopsy said he “was last known alive at a disciplinary hearing regarding his employment due to a legal matter.” The student communists who threatened him crowed over his death.
The university disputed he ever faced a “disciplinary hearing,” however, and shortly before Paulin’s article was published, the medical examiner’s office issued an amended report that removed “disciplinary hearing” and “legal matter.”
The day after Morrisett ended his life, the Statesman reported he had died without noting it was suicide.
Instead, the newspaper noted that its belated outing of a man who was paying his debt to society had changed some rules at UT. They include a new provision that lets UT punish any professor who “contradicts the core values upon which the university is built.”
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