What is the importance of allegations of malice and how will they be proved?
Many of the allegations explicitly characterize conduct of Elizabeth English as malicious or vindictive. These are pretty serious charges and, if proven, will justify significant punitive damages and increase the liability of the Board of Trustees.
At a meeting to discuss Archer’s character development efforts, Ms. English asked Mr. Josephson, President of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, to conduct a survey of attitudes and behavior of Archer students. Mr. Josephson agreed to do so without charge based on the understanding that the data would be shared with parents, students, faculty and the Board to stimulate discussion and enhance Archer’s character development strategies.
Mr. Josephson conducted the survey and prepared an analytical report as well as discussion questions in October 2009. The report revealed a disturbingly high rate of cheating, drinking and drug use and Ms. English reneged on her commitment to share the information with parents, faculty and students and, through another administrator he was asked to (and he reluctantly agreed to) not reveal the data.
When Ms. English learned Mr. Josephson had been asked to deliver a program for the Archer Dads organization and that he was conducting a separate survey for that program, she apparently feared he might collect and reveal data similar the information included in the report on the survey she commissioned, she decided to “put him in his place”.
Based on completely erroneous assumptions (that she made no effort to verify), Ms. English, in the words of Archer Dad’s president, Jeffry Spitz, “ambushed” Mr. Josephson with conference call attended by several Board members. During that call Ms. English rebuked, insulted and sought to intimidate Mr. Josephson accusing him of being unprofessional and unethical in conducting another survey without her permission. One of the Board members, Cathy Helm, implied legal action if Mr. Josephson did not comply with Ms. English’s wishes.
In a tirade that lasted for more than an hour, Ms. English disregarded Mr. Josephson’s attempts to correct her false assumptions about the nature of the survey and the circumstances under which it was created. Mr. Josephson expressed his own outrage at inappropriate behavior and he insisted that Mr. Spitz be included in the conversation. When it became clear even to Ms. English that the beliefs underlying her disrespectful and defamatory accusations were wrong and irresponsible, she eventually backed off. But, instead of apologizing for her inappropriate behavior, Ms. English formed a deep animosity for Mr. Josephson that she expressed with retributive actions against Mr. Josephson’s daughters and unfounded accusations that Mr. Josephson acted improperly.