Plymouth State Pays Professor $350,000 After Witness Testimony Firing
Plymouth State University has reached a settlement with a former adjunct lecturer who was fired for testifying in a criminal proceeding where she backed a guidance counselor convicted of sexually assaulting a student.
The university paid $350,000 to Nancy Strapko, who lost her job after pleading leniency at Kristie Torbick’s sentencing in Rockingham County Superior Court, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported. The settlement agreement between Strapko and the university was signed on February 15.
Torbick pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old Exeter High School student and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in prison in 2018.
Bowing to the pressure from various constituents, the university fired Strapko on Aug. 1, 2018, saying that she would not be rehired as an adjunct teaching lecturer or employed by the university in any other capacity.
“Professor Strapko was fired for nothing more than her witness testimony — and that is a blatant violation of her First Amendment rights and a clear violation of Plymouth State’s free speech promises,” Zach Greenberg, a program officer in Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Individual Rights Defense Program, said.
“Plymouth State disregarded the profound societal importance of ensuring that people with relevant information come forward when called to testify in criminal trials — a civic responsibility that forms the backbone of any functional system of justice.”
Earlier this year, Plymouth State University was featured among the 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech by FIRE.
Recently, Zanna Blaney, a faculty member at Bedford High School also filed a lawsuit demanding her job back and monetary damages for her wrongful termination after she testified during a sentencing hearing for Torbick.