Walking on the Ledge
Ben Hodge: FOC (Friend of Carlsen)
Benjamin Hodge thinks you’re an idiot. In fact, he’s counting on it.
Hodge’s latest attempt to rewrite history in his favor of his campaign for a seat on the JCCC Board of Trustees has him focusing on the 2006 sexual harassment allegations against the college’s former president, Charles Carlsen.
However an April 14, 2006 article in The Kansas City Star reveals the truth. Hodge actually went public to his support Carlsen even after learning of the allegations.
“Trustee Benjamin Hodge also said he had no reason to believe the allegations had any merit. ‘I’m behind Dr. Carlsen,’ Hodge said. ‘I think he’s a good man.'”
Hodge also would like to frame himself as a defender of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. However, once again, Hodge’s history contradicts his new image.
While a member of the JCCC Board of Trustees, Hodge approached The Campus Ledger staff wanting to review article that caused Carlsen to step down and then retire BEFORE it went to print. That is called prior review and is something an advocate of the First Amendment would know is unconstitutional.
Yet, Hodges’ violation of the First Amendment continued.
A few months later, Hodge voted to deny funding to the student newspaper. The Ledger staff members requested trustees allow them to use their budget surplus to publish two issues during the summer in order to continue reporting on the Carlsen scandal.
Hodge voted with the board’s majority to censor The Ledger by denying the staff access to its previously approved budget.
Trustee Jon Stewart, who is also seeking re-election this cycle, was the only trustee who voted to support The Ledger’s First Amendment rights.
Benjamin Hodge can try to frame himself as an advocate for the people, defender of the First Amendment, and the person who single-handedly brought down corruption at JCCC but we all know the truth. His first reaction was to turn against students and the victims of the alleged harassment and side with Carlsen. It’s a stand he held long after Carlsen left JCCC.
Full Disclosure: Miguel M. Morales was the student reporter who broke the story on Carlsen’s alleged sexual harassment. He was one of The Ledger staff members who requested JCCC trustees allow the staff to access it’s own funds, and he is a former candidate for the JCCC Board of Trustees.
Read the KC Star article below:
College president faces harassment allegations
The Kansas City Star – Friday, April 14, 2006
MELODEE HALL BLOBAUM; LAURA BAUER; BRAD COOPER
Johnson County Community College President Charles Carlsen said Thursday that he would take a leave of absence while college trustees decide how to handle allegations that he sexually harassed a female employee in 2003.
The announcement came after the college newspaper, The Campus Ledger, reported the alleged harassment in its Thursday edition.
Carlsen denied the allegations to the Ledger and said in a statement released later Thursday:
“I am deeply distressed by reports in our campus newspaper about a personnel issue brought to my attention two and one-half years ago that I was assured had been adequately addressed and satisfactorily resolved at that time.”
Carlsen , 67, called for the college’s Board of Trustees to appoint an independent third party to investigate the allegations and make recommendations to the board.
“Be assured I am intensely interested in clearing the air on this matter and that just as I am comfortable with my professional conduct, I do pledge my full cooperation in the independent analysis that I am asking to be commissioned by the board.”
Carlsen did not comment publicly beyond the statement.
At her home late Thursday, the employee said she was unaware of Carlsen ‘s temporary leave and said she planned to be at work today. She declined to comment further.
“I have to sort through some things,” she said.
According to the student newspaper’s report, the woman told her supervisor about incidents that she said occurred between May and November 2003. She said Carlsen repeatedly isolated her in his office and rubbed against her breast with his forearm, and made unannounced visits to her office that made her uncomfortable.
The newspaper reported that the employee documented the conversation with her supervisor in a 22-page narrative.
According to the paper, the narrative also documented a conversation about the matter with Carlsen and two senior college officials. The employee gave a copy to board president Elaine Perilla, the Ledger reported.
David Westbrook, a public relations consultant assisting the college on the matter, said trustees would determine who would conduct the investigation, if they agree with Carlsen ‘s request that such an investigation be done.
Perilla said Thursday that she didn’t know how the board would proceed but that she expected the discussion would begin today.
Perilla had no comment on the allegations in the campus paper.
Other trustees who served on the board at the time the incidents allegedly occurred could not recall the matter coming to the board’s attention.
“That complaint was never taken to the board, I can assure you of that,” said Molly Baumgardner, who stepped down from the board in 2004 after 18 years. “That complaint absolutely should have been taken to the board.”
T. Nelson Mann, who also was a trustee when the incidents allegedly occurred, said he recalled having disciplinary meetings from “time to time” but nothing involving Carlsen .
“You’ve got me,” Mann said when asked whether a complaint had been filed against Carlsen 2 1/2 years ago. “I don’t recall anything involving Chuck at all or what this would be about.”
Bob Regnier, who serves on the executive committee of the Johnson County Community College Foundation, said the allegations didn’t sound at all like Carlsen .
“I find it hard to believe it would have any basis,” he said.
Trustee Benjamin Hodge also said he had no reason to believe the allegations had any merit.
“I’m behind Dr. Carlsen ,” Hodge said. “I think he’s a good man.”
Carlsen has been president of the college since January 1981. He led efforts to establish the school’s Cultural Education Center in 1990, and the building was named after him in 1998. The college has more than 34,000 students total and about 18,000 enrolled in credit courses.
Baumgardner has many questions she hopes the current board asks.
“I am sickened by the possibility that harassment occurred and that it was never brought to my attention as a board member,” Baumgardner said.
The text of Carlsen ‘s statement
“I am deeply distressed by reports in our campus newspaper about a personnel issue brought to my attention two and one-half years ago that I was assured had been adequately addressed and satisfactorily resolved at that time. Public controversy inevitably created by this report will raise questions and create distraction. I believe this is a moment that requires the College Trustees to rely on independent analysis by a responsible third party who would be engaged to
determine the facts and make recommendations to the Board. In the interest of protecting the purity of such analysis and eliminating any doubts whatsoever about the objectivity of the process, I think it would be best for the College for me to take a voluntary leave of absence until the process has been satisfactorily concluded. Be assured I am intensely interested in clearing the air on this matter and that just as
I am comfortable with my professional conduct, I do pledge my full cooperation in the independent analysis that I am asking to be commissioned by the Board.”