Two of three community members who spoke publicly about allegations of harassment against former Garden City Community College cheerleading coach Brice Knapp now say they believe they are being retaliated against by representatives of the college.
Community members Aaron Kucharik and Toni Douglass used the public comment portion of the April 10 GCCC Board of Trustees meeting to discuss letters written by former GCCC cheerleaders that accused Knapp of creating a culture of harassment, sexual innuendo and intimidation. Knapp resigned suddenly on March 29 after four years as the school's cheer coach.
Earlier this week, Douglass told The Telegram that she had been served a “No Trespass Notice” by Rodney Dozier, the GCCC Chief of Police, and a Garden City police officer. The notice was dated April 25.
On Friday, Kucharik spoke during a GCCC Faculty Senate meeting held to address a report presented by members of the senate calling for the dismissal of GCCC President Herb Swender. The report accused Swender of creating a hostile work environment at the college, including alleged incidents of intimidation and sexual harassment.
Kucharik told those in attendance that somebody “who had a meeting with the president” went to his employer — Price and Sons Funeral Homes — and tried to “get me removed from my job.” He is the funeral director at Price and Sons in Garden City.
Kucharik also said during the meeting that “members of the administration have been in the Endowment Office trying to get me removed from the board because I spoke out.”
Kucharik, who serves on the GCCC Endowment Association board of directors, declined to elaborate which members of the administration were trying to get him removed. He said he hasn't been removed from either the board or his position at Price and Sons.
Some GCCC faculty members have expressed concerns for their jobs because of the report made to the board. Kucharik said he wanted to make a statement at Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting because, “I wanted the faculty and the staff of GCCC to know that they are not the only ones facing scare tactics and the possibility of retaliation.”
Both Kucharik and Douglass believe the actions were retaliation for their comments during the April 10 trustees meeting.
“I am very disheartened by it,” Kucharik told The Telegram Friday night. “I just feel that I was just trying to voice concerns as a community member and as an alum of GCCC. I was not speaking of behalf of any organization or entity. I was speaking on behalf of myself personally. They could have called me personally and asked me.”
The “No Trespass Notice” given to Douglass, a copy of which was obtained by The Telegram, states that she was receiving it because of her conduct “on the GCCC campus, or at GCCC sponsored events, that has caused GCCC employees or others on campus or attending events to feel intimidated, harassed or unnecessarily uncomfortable.”
Douglass is a Broncbuster Athletic Association member and the wife of former BAA president Mark Douglass.
“My initial reaction was ‘Here’s Herb at his finest again,” Douglass said of receiving the notice, which she said stopped her from attending GCCC graduation and the College athletic banquet. “Here’s Herb harassing me because he doesn’t like what I’m saying. What has been said to me, and what I have seen (from Swender) in the past, this is very much how he treats people who say things that he doesn’t think are favorable towards the college.”
When asked about the notice, GCCC attorney Randy Grisell said, “the college has no comment on any questions pertaining to Toni Douglass.”
Douglass said she did have two confrontations with people affiliated with the college, but said she neither threatened nor physically touched either person. She believes, as does her attorney Jean Lamfers of Shawnee, that neither incident was enough to warrant the no-trespass notice.
Lamfers said she negotiated with Grisell to have Douglass speak at the most recent trustees meeting on Tuesday, but the two sides could not agree on terms to have Douglass attend the GCCC graduation on May 4.
“We’re respecting it (the notice) at this point in time, but we’re going to take it to court,” Lamfers said. “If they won’t rescind it, that’s our only option, because they are a public campus. It’s state money. Toni is a taxpayer. She has the first amendment right of freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.”
Douglass said her main concern is being able to interact with some of the student-athletes at GCCC, whom she has helped support through the BAA and as a host parent.
Kucharik said that he later received a letter of apology for the call, but would not provide that letter to The Telegram, nor name the person who he believes made the call.
Grisell could not be reached Friday for comment about Kucharik's allegations.
Swender did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Contact Levi Burnfin at firstname.lastname@example.org.