Miltenberg: “Faculty, Staff, Administration and Students Speak Up about Chaplain Blackmon’s Dismissal,” The Wheaton Record


Wheaton College announced on July 3 its termination of Timothy Blackmon as chaplain following a Title IX complaint and investigation conducted in the winter and spring of 2020. This was the first time in the school’s history that a chaplain was fired. The college has since removed Blackmon’s chapel messages from its YouTube channel. In a public statement following early media coverage of the firing, President Philip Ryken outlined the specific allegations leading to the decision. Blackmon and his lawyer, Andrew Miltenberg, have disputed the allegations. According to the college’s statement, a complainant reported that the former chaplain had engaged in a variety of actions which violated the college’s racial and sexual harassment policies. The complainant reported they had witnessed Blackmon suggest a female employee sit on his lap to take his online sexual harassment training for him, he had addressed a member of the Chaplain’s Office by a racial slur and he had emailed employees a meme about masturbation. The complainant also alleged that Blackmon arranged to have “The Idiot’s Guide to Kama Sutra” placed on their desk and made a comment regarding their sex life. According to a faculty member, the complainant spoke to personal mentors at the time of the alleged incidents first occurring in 2015. In November of 2019, the complainant filed a claim with Wheaton’s Title IX office. Blackmon went to the press in the weeks following the president’s announcement and claimed that his statements were taken out of context. He attributed the disconnect to a cultural barrier between his Dutch sense of humor and Midwestern stigmas around topics of race and sexuality. According to Leslie Weinzettel, a former Chaplain’s Office coordinator and the alleged victim of the harassment training comment, Blackmon’s “friendly banter” was a distinct shift from the previous chaplain’s reserved demeanor. Weinzettel has since said that the college’s description of the event was taken so far out of context as to be “not factually correct,” according to an email she sent to Ryken obtained by the Record. In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Tribune, Blackmon called the allegations “a complete misconstrual of events” and said that the administration ignored due process in his termination. In the article, Miltenberg said Blackmon has a strong case for a lawsuit against the school. Miltenberg added in another interview that the Black chaplain’s race factored into his firing.

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