A McLean County Judge has found former Illinois State University President Tim Flanagan guilty of disorderly conduct.
The abbreviated bench trial on Monday allowed the state to present an account of what numerous witnesses would say if they state were required to go to the expense of a full trial. The case involved a December incident outside the University residence in which witnesses said Flanagan screamed at the then head of grounds, Patrick Murphy, for several minutes.
Defense Attorney Steve Skelton said Flanagan would have contested a university housekeeper's account of the aftermath of the confrontation in which Flanagan was heard to say that Murphy would be fired that very day.
"Even though we disagree with a number of the conclusions that were drawn and some of the information that was contained in that stipulation, we were fully aware that witnesses were available to provide that to the court," Skelton said.
Murphy was later let go from his position, a few days shy of the end of his probationary period in the new job. Succeeding ISU President Larry Dietz approved Murphy's hiring in another position.
Flanagan issued a written statement after the trial saying he is very sorry to anyone he may have offended. And Skelton saud the statement also indicates Flanagan acknowledges University leaders are held to a higher standard.
"if he could turn back the clock to that date, he would have approached it differently," Skelton said. "So yes, he does regret the unfortunate incident that took place."
"This entire incident was a tragedy for Illinois State University, for Dr. Flanagan, and for Mr. Murphy," he added. "We are very pleased that we ended up with a resolution today."
The confrontation was partly over a lawn aerating cleanup job outside the official ISU residence. Skelton said the crew had removed Flanagan's personal property.
"They removed certain shrubbery or plants that were outside the home that contained decorative lighting that was owned by the Flanagans," he said. "At least to a degree I think that was part of what lit the match in this whole situation."
Flanagan will pay a $300 fine and court costs, do 30 hours of community service, and serve six months court supervision. If no other troubling conduct emerges by the end of the supervision period, the conviction would be dropped from Flanagan's record.
Flanagan has received permission to do the community service in another state. He now lives in Colorado. The case contributed to Flanagan's forced resignation less than a year after he took the top job at the University.
Text of Flanagan statement:
"Nearly seven months ago I verbally reprimanded a university employee for taking my personal property from the University Residence without asking. I regret raising my voice during this encounter and my choice of words was ill advised. University leaders are held to a higher standard. I am very sorry to anyone I may have offended. Thank you to my family, friends and colleagues who supported me during this difficult time."
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