July 30, 2002

EMORY / BELLESILES UPDATE: Well, this isn’t really an “update,” which would involve actual new facts. This is just a followup to my mention below that rumors are swirling about what Emory will do in the Bellesiles affair.

Unfortunately, the rumors are plentiful, mutually contradictory, and allegedly well-sourced (though always at third or fourth hand). One set has it that Emory is planning to hang Bellesiles high, and that the delay has been to get its ducks in a row to withstand a threatened lawsuit.

Another is that Emory will do nothing official but will quietly buy out Bellesiles’ contract, putting him on perpetual (paid) leave while he goes to teach at another institution, perhaps abroad. (I find this one hard to believe, as it would create a gigantic scandal since it would, basically, be a coverup).

I don’t know what to make of these. It seems pretty safe to say that the investigation isn’t going to produce an exoneration of Bellesiles — first, given the evidence already out, that seems very unlikely, and second, one expects that an exoneration would be trumpeted by Bellesiles’ supporters and by Emory, which can’t be enjoying all the negative attention.

The big tipoff will be whether there’s a public announcement and release of the investigation’s report (which Emory has promised) in late August. If so, look for Bellesiles to be fired as the most likely outcome. On the other hand, if nothing is said, and Bellesiles is “on leave” again next year, then the coverup theory will be looking stronger.

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