After ousted chaplain threatens lawsuit, Wheaton College details why it fired him
After an ousted Wheaton College chaplain threatened legal action against the school, a college spokesman provided details about the inappropriate racial and sexual comments he was alleged to have made toward staff members.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Rev. Timothy Blackmon said he was "blindsided" when he learned of Title IX investigations in response to complaints from Wheaton College staff members. In his statement, Blackmon, who was the sixth chaplain in the college's history, said the comments in question were spoken in a public setting in 2015 and 2016. His ouster became public on July 3.
Blackmon, a 50-year-old Netherlands native who was hired by Wheaton College in 2015, said in his statement that the thought of taking legal action against Wheaton College "pains" him, but it might be necessary.
"To be clear, I was completely blindsided by this Title IX investigation," Blackmon said. "Moreover, there were no allegations of flirtation, inappropriate relationships, sexual misconduct or any sexual action towards anyone. At no time did anyone, either the complainant or any witness, communicate offense or discomfort."
But Joe Moore, Wheaton College's director of marketing communications, disputed Blackmon's account late Wednesday night.
"We sincerely hoped not to share details regarding the termination of Reverend Tim Blackmon's employment at Wheaton College," Moore said in a statement. "However, in light of the recent public attempts to exonerate his behavior and suggest that the college has treated him unfairly, the college must provide further information about the conduct at issue."
Moore's statement alleges Blackmon used an ethnic slur against an Asian American employee, made graphic sexual comments to a married female employee, circulated a lewd meme, and arranged to have an illustrated manual of sexual positions placed on a female staff member's desk.
"In the course of the thorough external investigation and adjudication that followed, which afforded multiple opportunities to respond to the allegations, Reverend Blackmon did not dispute that he said or did any of these things," Moore said in the statement. "In fact, he admitted that his 'foolish' conduct was 'beneath the dignity of (his) position and not up to the highest standards of wisdom.'"
Before Wheaton College's statement Wednesday night, Blackmon acknowledged sharing theological articles "the complainant deemed ideologically problematic," and he said some of the comments in question were "taken completely out of their factual and, in some cases, religious context."
Blackmon had called Wheaton College "a remarkable institution."
"During my five-year tenure as chaplain, I strived to lead and preach with the highest levels of integrity, accountability and honesty," Blackmon said. "I have been and remain committed to racial and gender equity and safety."