Former Louisiana College VP files lawsuit
Second-in-command to President Joe Aguillard until last May, Timothy Johnson says he was let go in retaliation for performing his duty to report malfeasance as mandated by the school’s whistleblower policy.
By Bob Allen
A former Louisiana College administrator sued the Louisiana Baptist Convention-affiliated school March 11 claiming wrongful termination after he filed a whistleblower report alleging misconduct by the school’s president.
Timothy Johnson, former executive vice president at Louisiana College, claims he followed school policy by reporting to trustees that President Joe Aguillard had misappropriated funds in a way that prompted a major donor to terminate gifts of about $2 million a year and lied about it to both donors and trustees.
Afterward, Johnson claims, Aguillard ordered an unprecedented “interim” evaluation of his job performance. After scoring him a perfect “48” on all his previous evaluations, he says, this time Aguillard graded him at 8.
Johnson called the exercise “immediate and obvious retaliation” for his whistleblower complaint, which continued when Aguillard declined to renew his contract last May.
The Louisiana College board of trustees investigated both Johnson’s complaint and a separate whistleblower report by former Vice President Chuck Quarles before voting 17-13 to retain Aguillard as president last April.
A recent university press release declared Aguillard “fully exonerated” of the charges, apparently prompting Quarles to release audio recording of a conversation that appeared to contradict statements Aguillard gave to the media in a May 21, 2013, interview with The Town Talk newspaper in Alexandria, La.
Louisiana Baptist Message Editor Kelly Boggs recently penned a 3,500-word story about information from confidential LC trustee meetings, letters from an attorney, a never-filed lawsuit and other documents leaked recently by a Southern Baptist pastor in Montana that have renewed controversy over Aguillard’s leadership.
Boggs quoted a trustee speaking on the condition of anonymity who called the whole thing “another attempt to stir up trouble for Louisiana College” by groups “that are constantly attempting to create problems for the college to satisfy their own selfish purposes.”
Boggs identified the “primary outlet” for the leaked information as “Reformed Baptist pastor and blogger J.D. Hall from Montana, who maintains a website where he writes a weblog and offers a regular podcast.” Boggs said Hall “has been an outspoken critic of the LC board of trustees, LC president Joe Aguillard and Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Director David Hankins.”
Hall, pastor of Southern Baptist-affiliated Fellowship Church of Sidney, Mont., released previously internal documents obtained from unnamed sources on his Pulpit & Pen podcast program, he says, to clear the names of individuals fired by Aguillard for allegedly plotting a Calvinist takeover at Louisiana College.
Hall, co-founder of the pro-Calvinist Reformation Montana, says he believes Aguillard used Calvinists on campus as a scapegoat to divert attention away from allegations of misconduct and to win support of Hankins, whose son, Eric, authored a widely disseminated rebuttal of Calvinism titled “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” in 2012.
“The controversy is not fueled by truth telling,” Hall responded to the Baptist Message report in his podcast March 10. “The controversy is fueled by wrongdoing. Truth telling is never wrong.”
“Believe it or not, I did not wake up one day and say I want to cause problems at Louisiana College,” Hall said. “I had never even heard of Louisiana College until your president started acting like a banana-republic dictator and using people’s soteriological views as a weapon in order to defend his own job performance.”
“I’m not bringing this to you, you brought this to me,” Hall said. “Your mismanagement, trustees of Louisiana College, is what brought this to me.”
In his lawsuit, Johnson seeks compensation for damages including lost income, mental anguish and pain and suffering.
© 2014 Associated Baptist Press, Inc.