Statement - Administrative Review of Leslie C. Strohm
I'm Elliot Cramer. I am a Professor Emeritus in the Psychology Department. I appreciate having the opportunity to appear before your committee for evaluation of Leslie Strohm. I have had extensive dealings with Ms. Strohm and in my opinion, based on the public record and my dealings with her, she is incompetent, dishonest, and unethical. While this may seem harsh, it is justified by the documentation below.
One of my public service activities was my involvement with FOCAS (Friends of the Orange County Animal Shelter) which I co-founded. This is a public charity registered with the Federal government. It is a tiny organization be a typical yearly income of less than 1000 dollars. I have never used university facilities to solicit money for this organization. The only connection was set up an alias Email FOCAS@UNC.EDU for convenience for people to write to me about the shelter; I doubt that I have received as many as 25 emails to that address. Of course faculty, staff, and students use University email in connection with charitable organizations and for other personal purposes.
Several years ago I received an Email from an animal activist in New York inquiring about the organization with the intent of contributing money. This was in fact a subterfuge because he immediately made false accusations against me of illegally collecting money under false pretenses and using University resources for that purpose. We had some acrimonious emails back and forth and then I learned that he had written Holden Thorp, Leslie Strohm and others with false complaints about me. He wrote over a hundred emails to Strom, Thorp, the general administration, the Board of Trustees and others. Without any justification, Leslie Strohm read my emails; lied about what she found; and blocked my Email account and University website.
Below is a summary of the issues by reference to Emails. Complete emails and other relevant materials are on the website www.ourpaws.info/strohm.htm
Initial Correspondence with Joseph Villarosa
Nov 16, 2010 Joseph Villarosa to Cramer
I'm on your website now and would like to potentially donate funds
Nov 19 Villarosa to Cramer
You did NOT have a license to solicit money when you created the chipin (PayPal) for the Barrett lawsuit! You also created this on UNC time -- out of their office and directly tied to a UNC email address. Is that approved standard operating procedure for UNC staff?
Nov 20 Cramer to Villarosa
We did not need one since we are exempt by statute. ... No I didn't ... I've been retired for 15 years ... I don't want to have anything to do with you.
Nov 20 Villarosa to Cramer
Now watch what I do to you, FOCUS and all of your friends LEGALLY that is! I'm going straight to UNC And ALL of this is going to the NCSOS in my complaint!
Nov 20 Villarosa to "Friends at UNC"
I believe the attached complaint against Dr. Cramer is very clear. Please review.
Nov 20 Villarosa to Thorp
This is my second email ... I DEMAND an apology
Nov 21 Thorp to Villarosa
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I have corresponded with legal and they will be in touch tomorrow. Holden
Nov 22 Strohm to Villarosa
This will acknowledge receipt of your email messages related to Elliot Cramer. We will look into the concerns you have raised regarding Dr. Cramer and his use of university resources for personal correspondence.
Permission to read my Emails
Nov 22 Strohm to Provost Carney
I write to ask your approval to permit me to review Prof.Cramer's email correspondence with Mr. Villarosa.
Nov 22 Provost Carney to Strohm
You have my permission. I recall the episode earlier that was a major problem.
Dec 1 Strohm to Villarosa
As I wrote you on November 22, the University will look into your concerns ... Thanks for your interest in protecting the University.
My first knowledge of Villarosa's complaints to UNC
Dec 6 Cramer to Strohm
Sorry you've been bothered by this guy; I'm learning more and more about him. He is a real nut. I've just been chatting with Calley Gerber of Gerber Animal Law Center who has been harassed by him too. I'll write him from my ATT address from now on; let him complain to them about me.
More Villarosa Correspondence
Dec 8 Villarosa to Thorp
I'm sending the below email from Attorney Thompson via sophisticated and legal tracking email This way, I know every single time it is "touched" (opened, forwarded, read - and to whom and for how long) I am letting you know this because I feel UNC is liable if Cramer continues EVEN IF THE EMAILS COME FROM HIS BELLSOUTH EMAIL ADDRESS
Dec 12 Villarosa to Thorp
Note - he created a website JUST to bash me. ... This also involves UNC as he is clearly breaching your retaliation policy!
Dec 12 Strohm to Cramer
I've been copied on quite a bit of email correspondence today that indicates your dispute with Mr. Villarosa is escalating. I appreciate your email message last week letting me know you would be using a private email account from now on.
Dec 22 Kook (UNC General administration) to Villarosa
Ms Luger prefers to speak with you personally and she is out of state and unavailable
Jan 12 1:09p Corgnati to UNC Human Resources and Board of Governors
Please see the email sent by Laura Luger to Joseph Villarosa on your behalf. ______________________________________________________________
Strohm tells me that she read my emails and repeats Villarosa charges and my response
Jan 17 Strohm to Cramer
Thank you for following through on your commitment to use private resources and accounts, instead of your University account, to continue your dispute with Joseph Villarosa. ... your email files were reviewed. What we found is that, since 2004, you have regularly used your "unc" account to set up and manage a PayPal account on behalf of FOCAS and to solicit monetary gifts from donors and potential donors to FOCAS. ... If my understanding is correct, then you may either relinquish your "unc" account, effective immediately, or I will work with the University's Information Security Office to disable your account.
Jan 17 Cramer to Strohm
This is not true at all; I did not set up the paypal account and I did not manage it ... My association with FOCAS began in 2004 but, I believe, the paypal account was set up some years later. ... my association with FOCAS is in the nature of public service since FOCAS is organized under State law as a public charity, not a business ...
I have read the University policy and I am at a loss to know how any of this can be construed as a violation of University policy. If you still believe that it is, I would like you to specifically cite what, in the policy, I have violated. ... I will appreciate your promptly resolving this issue and notifying Mr. Villarosa that I am not in violation of University policy. He does not write me anymore but, I am told, I receive occasional mention on Facebook in connection with his harassment of others. I am sure that you have better things to do than deal with a nut like Villarosa.
Jan 17 Cramer to Strohm
I have logged onto the FOCAS paypal account and I see that our first paypal transaction was on 3/25/2008, not 2004 as you say. ... Thus we solicited an average of about .7 contributions per month on a non-UNC website. I had no occasion to write Paypal about ANY of these though I probably received emails from paypal, notifying me of the contributions. ... It is thus incorrect to say that I "have regularly used your "unc" account to set up and manage a PayPal account on behalf of FOCAS and to solicit monetary gifts from donors and potential donors to FOCAS." I did not set it up the account; I did not start managing the account until the end of December;
Jan 18 Villarosa to Luger I set you up, you stepped into my trap What a fool I'm NOT letting this go counselor You've got a big fight on your hands And I NEVER, EVER lose...
Jan 19 Cramer to Thorp
on Monday night I received an outrageous Email from Leslie Strohm saying that "your email files were reviewed. ... I have expected to hear from Ms. Strohm that this matter has been resolved, based on her obviously false information. ... I hope that you can resolve this quickly and I will be happy to talk to you on the phone about these issues.
Strom claims she will answer me with proof of allegations
Jan 19 Strohm to Kirby (Secretary of the University)
We did look at his emails, with permission from the Provost. We did not just rely on the allegations of Mr. Villarosa. I will respond to his messages as soon as I have a chance.
Note: That was a lie; to this day she has not responded. She relied ONLY on Villarosa's allegations as I know from my public records request. Furthermore these allegations have never been referred to again by ANYONE at the University.
No response to my letter
Jan 20 - March 13 No correspondence
March 14 Cramer to Strohm and Thorp (regarding my January 17 reply to Strohm accusations)
I have never received a reply to this. You may be interested to know that a restraining order has been issued against Villarosa;
March 13-April 16 No correspondence
Villarosa continues to complain about me
April 17 Villarosa to Thorp
As I predicted, Cramer has continued to harass not only myself BUT OTHERS on his UNC LINKED and PROMOTED website. ... Then you will see the DIRECT connection from his main UNC page to his slanderous www.ourpaws.info website.
Note: There is nothing slanderous there and it has nothing to do with the University.
April 18 Villarosa to Cleveland (Asst University Counsel)
Chancellor Thorp read my prior email yesterday but did not reply Nor did Luger or Strohm ... I've been more than patient and I'd like to work with UNC
April 19 Villarosa to Wadell and Padilla (ITS)
I'm hoping you could help since no other UNC department has been of much service
Strohm complains about a link to a link to a link
April 20 3:07pm Strohm to Cramer
Mr. Villarosa has contacted the University again to complain about your use of University resources to continue your dispute with him. I've looked at the website you maintain on the University network and see that there is a link to a website for the Piedmont Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), which includes a link to a website that contains references to Mr. Villarosa. Would you please remove - immediately -- from any University resources any links to material referencing Mr. Villarosa, either directly or indirectly. Your issues with him are a private matter, and the University should not be drawn into it.
I believe you now use private email accounts to continue your disputes with others. And, I acknowledge that the website you maintain on University resources is clean on its face. It is the links that continue to be problematic.
Strohm dismisses Villarosa's complaints about me
April 20 8:37pm Strohm to Villarosa
Dr. Elliot Cramer retired from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 1994. He is not our employee, and we have no responsibility for his actions. ... This is not a University matter.
My correspondence with Holden Thorp and Strohm
Cramer to Thorp April 20
Is there intelligent life in the office of your general counsel? ... Evidently Ms. Strohm claims that if I have a link to a link to a link ... to a link that references Mr. Villarosa, this is a violation of University policy. This is absurd and outrageous. I would appreciate your telling Ms. Strohm that there must better ways for her to spend her time, other than harassing a retired University professor. ... Some time ago you sent a letter to the University community about free speech. It seems to me that Ms. Strohm has been violating my free speech rights. I would appreciate your intervention in this.
April 22 Guest Editorial Chapel Hill Herald
"UNC general counsel has too much time to spare"
April 22 Thorp to Cramer
I need to ask you to comply with Ms. Strohm's requests. ... If you cannot comply with Ms. Strohm's requests, I will ask IT to disable your email account and web page. I'm sorry that we were not to able to come to an amicable solution, but I'm very disappointed that you disparaged our general counsel in the newspaper
April 24 Cramer to Thorp
Holden, Because of my esteem for you, I have removed the link www.ourpaws.info
April 25 Cramer to Strohm
Re: Dispute with Mr. Villarosa - how to make this go away
1. apologize for reviewing my email files without first asking me for an explanation
2. change your policy so that you first seek an explanation from the offending party before reviewing her emails
3. acknowledge that I have not violated the personal use and acceptable use policies of the University
In return, I will consider the matter closed and will remove all references to you from all of my websites.
As a courtesy to Holden, I have removed the link that you have complained about, although I see nothing in the University policies that relates to links to legal organizations.
Strohm orders my IT access disabled
April 27 Strohm to Waddell
Holden and I are in agreement that Elliot Cramer's email account and affiliated web page need to be disabled.
April 27 Cramer to Strohm
What is the problem now? I deleted the link you objected to but both my website and email access have been blocked, even though you have made no complaint about my email usage
April 27 Thorp to Cramer
You have embroiled the university in your personal issues and diverted university resources from the things we really need to focus on to a degree that is simply unacceptable. That is a violation of the campus "Personal Use Policy." I authorized IT Security to disable your university network privileges. They will not be reinstated. As I said in my last email, I won't be responding to any more of your emails. If you want to go to my superior about this, that would be President Ross.
Note: Of course it was Villarosa who "embroiled the university", not me and the Chancellor's action is a clear Violation of my First Amendment rights. As an Appeals Court said in ruling against UNC-W "The First Amendment protects not only the affirmative right to speak, but also the "right to be free from retaliation by a public official for the exercise of that right." Suarez Corp. Indus. v. McGraw, 202 F.3d 676, 685 (4th Cir.2000)."
April 27 Cramer to Thorp
I have not embroiled the university in my personal issues; Joseph Villarosa, a known internet harasser, has embroiled the University and Ms Strohm handled his complaint inappropriately ... It is a sad day when the Chancellor of the University of North Carolina sanctions the invasion of privacy and violation of free speech rights of a retired professor.
April 28 Cramer to President Ross
I would like to appeal the revocation of my university network privileges and request that my account be reinstated, pending action on my appeal.
FIRE writes the University supporting me
June 1, 2011 Letter from FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to Holden Thorp
Dear Chancellor Thorp:
FIRE is concerned about the threat to freedom of expression presented by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's (UNC's) decision to revoke the account access of Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer following complaints from a person unaffiliated with UNC about a private dispute between the two. In the course of making this decision, UNC inappropriately required Cramer to remove from his webpage on the university network a hyperlink to an external page that, in turn, linked to still another external page that addressed the dispute. Although Elliot removed the link, UNC nevertheless inappropriately revoked his Internet privileges.
June 15, 2011 Letter from Strohm to Fire
As you acknowledged in your letter, Dr. Cramer retired from the University in 1994. He is not an employee of the University and has not been an employee for more than 15 years. As a result, Dr. Cramer currently has no official business to conduct using the University Network. Access to the Network for his personal, non-official purposes was provided to him solely as a courtesy.
... Over the ensuing ten days, Dr. Cramer and Mr. Villarosa drew multiple University employees into their dispute... To summarize, Dr. Cramer is a former University employee who was granted rights to the University Network as a courtesy when he retired in 1994. These rights are privileges, conditional upon compliance with reasonable and content-neutral University policies, which Dr. Cramer has since violated. The University's decision to disable Dr. Cramer's Network privileges was not a response to the content or viewpoint of Dr. Cramer's speech, but a reasonable response to the actual and significant disruption experienced by the University as a result of Dr. Cramer's use of a University resource.
Note: This is a lie; I had long before stopped communicating with Villarosa and the things he complained about were NOT on a University website. I even removed the link to that.
Furthermore it is false to say that I have no University business. I have the title of Professor Emeritus which gives me numerous privileges. I continue to be an active scholar; I testified on death penalty issues to two legislative committees; I have been a consultant to the Federal Public Defender's office; I am actively doing research and publishing.
Other issues relating to Leslie Strohm's incompetence.
a. The Yankaskas Fiasco: The University agreed to pay Yankaskas $175,000 toward her legal fees, reinstate her as a full professor and rescind a 48 percent salary cut that reduced her annual pay from $178,000 to $93,000.
b. The withholding of public records which has probably cost the University over a million dollars
c. The Paul Frampton case where his salary was withheld without due process.
d. The Matt Kupec fiasco which forced Holden Thorp to resign. Certainly Holden Thorp should have been advised against going through with a sweetheart deal to hire Tyler Hansbrough's mother through a subterfuge.