The following is supported by multiple sources, including computer metadata and files obtained during Varlo Davenport’s trial, evidence presented in a Faculty Review Board, and witness testimony. All sources are linked where appropriate. This site can only link these sources, and is not responsible for any inaccuracies or incomplete data contained in the provided sources. Many assertions are sourced from Varlo Davenport’s legal complaint, which is publicly available for review.
Varlo Davenport, Dr. Ken Peterson, and Dr. Glenn Webb have been employed as Professors in the Arts Department at Dixie State University for over 10 years. Each has received accolades in their various fields and have grown the Arts Department from a struggling two-year program to a thriving bachelor program. Professor Davenport, in particular, has won national acclaim for his theatre productions, and several of his students have won national awards in acting and theater design.² All three are beloved by students and co-workers.³
MH was hired in the DSU Arts Department in 2010 as an “Audience Development Coordinator.”² This is a one-year appointment, conditional on increased attendance of theater productions. After his one year trial he was hired full-time, at which point he allegedly develops conflicts with multiple faculty members in the Arts Department.⁴ The conflicts continue to occur, leading to the following events:
2010 – Within his first year at DSU, MH starts writing SWOT reports⁴ targeting Davenport and two other professors, which he shared with university administration unbeknownst to those targeted. He inappropriately showed his SWOT reports to at least 2 students.
2012 – At this time, MH was Fine Arts Division Chair overseeing Art, Theatre, and Dance. MH allegedly starts approaching theater students at DSU and coercing them to write false complaints against Davenport and other faculty members.(6) Several students have come forward confirming that MH coerced them into writing complaints. These complaints were never disclosed to the faculty members they were regarding, and were never filed with Human Resources. MH’s alleged collection of complaints and maintenance of undisclosed faculty files is a violation of DSU policy 304.4.5 & 304.4.1.1.2. (7,8) The first of these policies essentially state that faculty must be notified of anything added to their personnel file and have a chance to dispute it. The second states that any disciplinary action must be put in the Human Resources file, not just the secondary file a superior may have.
Fall 2014 – MH is unanimously denied tenure by a 15-0 faculty committee vote.(9) Varlo Davenport was a member of this faculty committee. According to DSU policy, professors traditionally do not retain employment after being denied tenure.(10) MH appears to begin a plan to undermine the committee, and in particular Davenport, to keep his position. He is still employed at DSU 3 years later
Nov 19, 2014 – MH creates a document on his computer hereinafter called the “Development Plan,” in which he fabricates 10 alleged complaints against Davenport to make it appear as though he has received “3 strikes,” from the University.(11) He includes a superior’s name on the document who had actually retired several months earlier and backdates it to June 13th, 2014 (1).
Nov 21, 2014 – A student complains to her mother about feeling embarrassed during an acting exercise in one of Davenport’s classes. The mother of this student contacts MH. MH then takes the student’s statement and, both through editing and leading questions, appears to generate an exaggerated account from the student in order to file an assault complaint against Davenport.(12) Hereinafter called “the classroom incident.” Further investigation, including a jury trial, would reveal that the exercise was harmless and there was no criminal action.(36)
Dec 1, 2014 – MH interviews two students present during the classroom incident. He does not record the interviews and takes no official statements. He then composes his own fabricated statement of the incident using the two student’s names. (13) One of those student’s signed affidavit confirming that MH fabricated her statement can be found here.
Dec 1, 2014 – MH sends an email that includes the students’ statements, as well as his document “Development Plan,” directly to BW, the president of the University.(14) The body of the e-mail includes defamatory and derogatory comments directly attacking Davenport’s character and reputation.(45) This was a clear violation of DSU policy,(15) and immediately biased BW against Davenport before an investigation had even been performed. MH claimed that there were “years of complaints” about Davenport.(14)
Dec 2014 – At least 5 students attest to approaching MH and the Dean of the Arts Department to contradict the student’s report of assault.(21) No statements were ever taken.
Dec 2014 – Jan 2015 –
- DR, head of campus security, speaks to the family and student involved in the complaint and admits that there most likely is no criminal case, as this was a standard acting exercise. (44)
- BW, who should not have been involved in the process at all,¹⁸ instructs WC (Executive Vice President of the University) to terminate Davenport before ANY investigation had even begun. (1) This would have been based on what MH had sent to him via email. (46)
- BW hires the student whom Professor Davenport was accused of assaulting from the “Classroom Incident” to work directly in his office, (17) creating a conflict of interest.
- WC tries to obtain the so-called “files of complaints” purported by MH and finds that there are no complaints in Davenport’s personnel file. (18)
- Professor Davenport sent several emails inquiring as to the nature of the charges and whether anything other than the classroom incident was being considered. WC assured him that only the classroom incident was being reviewed.(19) Davenport requests a Faculty Review Board be convened, per his right as a tenured professor.(20)
Jan, 2015 – A Faculty Review Board is assembled. The Administration has little to no evidence to present. MH, again, testifies that he has “years of complaints” against Professor Davenport and said he had “signed statements” verifying this that weren’t sent to the Review Board.(18) The Board is instructed not to take these into account by DSU legal counsel, (18)
- Ken Peterson and Glenn Webb provide testimony on behalf of Davenport and are outspoken supporters during the process.(21)
- The Faculty Review Board votes unanimously to reinstate Davenport.(21)
February 2015 –
- BW, after reviewing the tape from the Faculty Review Board, appears to contact MH requesting all of the “years of complaints” that MH had mentioned in his testimony.²². This was a clear violation of policy, as the President is only supposed to consider what is presented to the Faculty Review Board.(20)
- MH then sends BW an email containing the “employee files” as well as the “Development Plan” that he had been (illegally) keeping on Davenport that were not presented in the Faculty Review Board. In the body of his email he again attacks Professor Davenport’s character.²²
- Davenport was never given an opportunity to defend himself against any of these additional complaints purported by MH, which is against policy.(20)
- President BW chooses to ignore the faculty review board judgement and terminates Professor Davenport.(23)
- A community petition is started and news outlets pick up the story.(24, 25)
March 4, 2015 – BW appears to instruct DR to pressure the County Attorney to press charges against Davenport in order to justify the termination.(26) DR states in his response:
“I’ve seen other Presidents have to go through this very same knee-jerk reaction from certain faculty… and it does always seem to come from a certain group in a certain location… I’ve been able to keep my sanity only by keeping a sense of humor, (having joked on many occasion that a well place grenade in a certain building could do wonders for the universal struggle between right and wrong).”
March 6, 2015 – BW allegedly states, in the presence of numerous staff and news reporters, that Davenport is “being investigated for having an affair with an underage student.” No evidence of this has ever been revealed. The rumor was spread through news sources.(27)
March 15, 2015 – BW makes a statement to the press that he had “met with Davenport 3 times,” leading up to the termination. He had never met with Davenport. When pressed on the issue, he recants and says, I never did meet with Davenport. But administration met with him three times.” According to Davenport, this is also untrue.(28, 29)
March – April 2015 – BW insinuates to the press and others that “there is evidence that the public doesn’t know about that justifies the termination.”(30) And “it had been going on for a long time. I made the right decision in firing him.”(31) No further evidence has ever been released. It can be assumed that he is speaking of the e-mails sent to him by Houser
Spring, 2015 – The security camera from the classroom where the incident occurred is removed and video footage is lost or destroyed. Numerous students and faculty testify that the camera was present during the time of the incident. (1)
April 21st, 2015 – Assault Charges are filed against Davenport. He has a mugshot taken and is booked into county jail for 2 hours (32)
Fall of 2015 and continuing through 2016, DSU appears to attempt to prevent Davenport from obtaining access to the computer metadata that pertained to his case.(33) This data is eventually released. A reporter alleges that there was collusion and coercion between DSU administration and the judge and others involved in the case. (34)
July 2016 – Varlo Davenport’s criminal case starts. He has numerous supporting witnesses, including Ken Peterson’s wife, who offered the main testimony regarding the classroom incident.(35) The state, essentially, presents little to no evidence.
July 14, 2016 – The Jury in Davenport’s case returns a “not guilty” verdict.(36)
July 14th, 2016 – Hours after the verdict, DSU issues a statement to the press including false and libelous allegations against Professor Davenport (again, that have nothing to do with the classroom incident for which he was terminated) to justify the termination. They also accuse students of perjury. Dixie State University has never retracted this statement, and it is still available to the public on their website.(37)
Davenport files a federal lawsuit against those involved in his termination. Davenport’s lawsuit alleges that DSU is telling future employers who inquire about him that he was terminated for “assaulting a student and for violent behavior towards faculty and administration.”(1) He says this has prevented him from obtaining further work in higher education.
Ken Peterson, Glenn Webb, and other faculty remain outspoken regarding the injustice of Varlo Davenport’s termination.
In the Fall of 2017, MH is again unanimously denied tenure by faculty committee. Peterson and Webb were part of the faculty committee
2018– Faculty members are pulled into meetings where they are interrogated. Faculty email is, allegedly, searched extensively without warning. Dr. Glenn Webb is put on leave in the middle of the semester and remains on leave without explanation or an estimated time of return for six and a half weeks.
March 2, 2018– Drs. Ken Peterson and Glenn Webb are called into meetings and are issued termination letters.⁴² Webb, to date, has not released his termination letter, but says his reason for termination is a minor policy violation and that he does not believe termination is the appropriate response. Peterson however, releases his termination letter to the public immediately, as well as his official response to the termination.⁴⁰, ⁴³
According to Ken Peterson’s termination letter, his is terminated, in part, for “slander” against MH and President BW when he was “overheard” by an unnamed third party saying that MH and President BW had conspired to unfairly terminate Davenport, and had escalated the student’s charges of assault in order to have Davenport terminated. It also claims that Peterson had shown “bias” against MH by voting against him at his tenure review hearing.
Ken Peterson claims that the statements allegedly made by him that were outlined in his termination letter would not be classified as slander, but truth.⁴⁰ Peterson says that his choice to deny tenure to MH was based on his working experience with him and not bias.
If this is all as it appears, and Drs Webb and Peterson have been fired, in part, as retalliation for their support of Davenport, not only has policy been broken, but Utah State Law. Utah Code 67-21-3-2 is part of the Utah Protection of Public Employees Act.⁴¹ It states:
“An employer may not take adverse action against an employee because an employee participates or gives information in an investigation, hearing, court proceeding, legislative or other inquiry, or other form of administrative review held by the public body.”