New developments in the Wainberg V. Piedmont College lawsuit took place after Piedmont students and faculty broke for summer; 31 new documents were filed in the Habersham Superior Court since the end of the spring 2019 semester.
Former Professor of Biology, Robert H. Wainberg Ph.D., filed a lawsuit against Piedmont College in August of 2018 for wrongful termination and breach of contract. Since this initial filing took place, The Roar has followed the lawsuit closely and reported breaking news and critical information regarding the case to Piedmont students. What started out as a catch-all complaint dredged up allegations of corruption within Piedmont College’s board of trustees and administration, as well as an affidavit from Piedmont professor and Mayor of Demorest Rick Austin Ph.D., regarding an alleged sexual assault against himself by President Mellichamp.
The 31 documents filed over the summer contain over 1,800 pages of transcripts, emails, orders, motions, notices, agreements and more. However, not all of the information discovered between May 9 and Aug.12 is available to the public. A judge granted the Plaintiff’s [Wainberg] emergency compliant on July 25 to seal the affidavit of President James Mellichamp, a letter from Piedmont College, a letter from Joseph A. Homans and a campus police report. Records and exhibits with the names of current students have been sealed under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as FERPA.
The affidavit of Piedmont alumn Nicholas “Reed” Alexander, known formerly in the case as only “R.A.” has also been sealed.
The court determined that further discussion of unreported, alleged sexual assault was “not within the scope of discovery,” and was irrelevant to the lawsuit. “[Wainberg] and his counsel have done everything in their power to defame and malign the character of the institution of Piedmont College and its employees by spewing malicious, false and sensational allegations throughout pleadings filed as a matter of public record in this court and communicating through various media outlets in an apparent effort to poison the potential jury pool.” Piedmont stated.
In April of 2019, The Roar shared our investigation of the alleged corruption and sexual assault with various news publications across the state of Georgia, fearing that covering this story alone might threaten the funding for our publication. News sources such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Gainesville Times and Now Habersham launched their own investigations into the story. The Roar has since been assured our publication will not be threatened due to covering developments in the case.
“Despite the rulings of the Court specifically ordering [Wainberg] to limit discovery to issues that are actually relevant to his cause of actions, [Wainberg] and his Counsel have taken every opportunity to fill the public record with allegations that are […] irrelevant and immaterial,” Piedmont said.
As our investigation into the lawsuit continues, The Roar will continually update Piedmont students online with new information.
As student journalists, we strive to do our best to report accurate information to the student body. Part of being a student is learning, and making mistakes to learn from is part of the process. We would like to correct a statement made on our update of Wainberg V. Piedmont College in our Aug. 30 edition of the Roar.
In this article, we had originally reported that Piedmont College had filed to seal several records that contained sensitive information regarding Piedmont students that violated FERPA. This was a misunderstanding and is incorrect. This motion to seal was filed by Robert Wainberg’s legal team, not Piedmont College’s.
On a small campus where the team covering Wainberg V. Piedmont College consists of four students, we strive to share the most accurate information with our fellow student body and community. We promise to be vigilant in our efforts to report what is true, accurate and not misleading.