published Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Student's story on professor sex scandal causes uproar

The entrance to Bryan College from Highway 127 in Dayton, Tenn.
The entrance to Bryan College from Highway 127 in Dayton, Tenn.
Photo by John Rawlston.

ON THE WEB

Read Alex Green's story and flier at http://tinyurl.com/bw7ry2l

A surprise news flier that circulated on Bryan College's campus Monday is causing shockwaves far beyond Dayton, Tenn.

Alex Green, editor of the student newspaper, had planned to publish a story about a Biblical studies professor who resigned after being arrested on several attempted child molestation charges. According to the 22-year-old Green, the story was spiked by Bryan President Stephen Livesay.

When Green left the fliers around campus anyway about the arrest of David Morgan, news spread quickly. National news blogs wrote about the conservative Christian college's attempt to stifle the story, which was based on public records.

Popular journalism blogs such as JimRomenesko.com got reporters and editors around the country talking about the fifth-year senior's decision to publish against the administration's wishes.

"Bryan College is not Penn State," Green wrote in the flier as his explanation for why he decided to hand out the story. "Because there are people here that will not attempt to save face by dusting over the arrest of Dr. David Morgan."

Green, who also works as a correspondent for the Herald-News in Rhea County, declined to comment for this article.

Morgan -- who also was the assistant director of the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice -- resigned this summer after he was arrested by officers in an FBI sting and accused of meeting two underage girls at a gas station in Fort Oglethorpe in hopes of having sex.

Livesay held a campus-wide meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss Green's story. He told a group of 150 students, faculty and alumni that he didn't allow the story to be printed because it was inappropriate.

Bryan spokesman Tom Davis said Livesay and the school's cabinet felt like the story shouldn't be published because they couldn't verify Green's facts.

"They are looking at this as: We are an institution that says it's a Christian institution and we're trying to live that out, to not spread information we can't confirm," Davis said.

But when asked whether the police report filed against Morgan was proof, Davis, who is also a Chattanooga Times Free Press corespondent, said the school couldn't confirm every detail.

Morgan wasn't arrested on campus, Davis said, and the incident that led to the charges didn't take place on school grounds and didn't involve anyone tied to the campus.

The student paper, called the Triangle, is a classroom-run paper that publishes weekly online and monthly in print. Davis said Livesay doesn't normally read stories before they're printed in the paper and he knows of only one other time in his 21 years at the school in which the college administrators stopped a story from being printed.

Green was quoted on Romenesko.com saying he knew he could be expelled for what he did.

Davis said Green hasn't been disciplined.

Students from another nearby Christian school, Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., were also buzzing.

"You are making waves at Lee too," said Ryan Circolone on a post on Green's Facebook page. "The Lee Clarion is talking about what is going on and want you to know I support you. You are an inspiration."

about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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