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Fortunate Sons?

Richard Smith and Kerr Tigrett, sons of prominent Memphians, are fighting for their futures at the University of Virginia.

by Jim Hanas

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA -- In the living room of a student tenement apartment across from the Tri-Delta sorority house, the coffee table is cluttered with empty bottles and dirty dishes, remnants of cycles of stress and relief that come with another exam week. A basketball game winds to the buzzer on television. When it's over, Richard Smith and Kerr Tigrett -- both sons of prominent Memphians, both staring down an exam in GFIR 506, aka "Military Force In International Relations" -- mull over the events of the last year-and-a-half that have converted their families' wealth into unwanted notoriety.

Smith, an imposing figure who spent his first year at the University of Virginia as an offensive lineman for the Cavaliers, does not hide his exasperation, expressing his total disbelief that a one-punch incident involving another U.Va. student -- for which he's admitted guilt, for which he's apologized, for which he spent 21 days in jail -- has led to this: infamy and widespread claims that he's getting special treatment because of who his father is.

"I lost my temper, did something stupid," he says. "I've never contested that."

The apartment is Tigrett's, but Smith, his frat brother and lifelong friend, does most of the talking, except for occasional interjections, which Tigrett offers with a calmness that contrasts with Smith's frustration.

"If money or persuasion or power were influencing this," Tigrett asks, "do you think we would be in this situation?"

On May 14, 1998, Richard Smith -- the eldest son of FedEx founder Fred Smith -- pled guilty in the General District Court of Albemarle County, Virginia, to one count of misdemeanor assault and battery in connection with an assault on Alexander "Sandy" Kory, a fellow student from Falls Church, Virginia. The previous day, three other students -- including Kerr Tigrett, son of fashion designer Pat Kerr Tigrett and the late financier John Tigrett -- pled no contest to disorderly conduct in connection with the incident.

The end of the criminal proceedings, however, turned out to be only a beginning. A year after entering their pleas, the academic futures of Smith, Tigrett, and another student -- Bradley Kintz of Alexandria -- are still uncertain. In November, the student-run University Judiciary Committee (UJC) voted to expel them; and while all three are still enrolled at the university, their fates have become a flashpoint for controversy.

Those calling for the students' ouster argue that the principles of student self-governance -- introduced at the school by founder Thomas Jefferson -- are being trampled upon, and suspicions abound that their wealth is keeping them on campus.

Smith, however, thinks his family's money is what has singled him out for the ultimate punishment, a sanction that hasn't been levied by the student-run judiciary system in at least a decade. His advocates argue that the campus has been gripped by hysteria, fueled by leaks from a one-sided and confidential judicial proceeding and fanned by slanted and incomplete reports in the campus newspaper

But whether it's frat-boy rowdyism or hysteria that's treading on tradition at Jefferson's university, neither would have surprised its patron saint, whose figure adorns every plaza, law office, and coffee shop in Charlottesville.

The University of Virginia -- the western focal point of the town of Charlottesville, population 40,000 -- is unique, particularly among public universities. It is uncommonly prestigious. Nearly all of its entering students graduated in the top quarter of their respective high-school classes, and its $1 billion endowment rivals those of Dartmouth and Duke. In last year's U.S. News & World Report survey of the nation's top colleges and universities, it rated first, along with the University of California at Berkeley, among public institutions.

Much of that prestige comes from its Jeffersonian tradition. The campus' central structure, a massive lawn flanked by 10 Greco-Roman pavilions and bookended by the domed Rotunda on one end and by a statue of Homer on the other, still looks, via restoration, much as it did when Jefferson oversaw its construction more than a century-and-a-half ago. Moving away from the Lawn, buildings become increasingly modern and the campus sprawls over steep hills and around winding steps and walkways that eventually terminate among Starbucks and 7-Elevens just off campus, and are entirely forgotten by the time Route 29 turns into a Burger Row that could be anywhere in the country.

But Jefferson's influence transcends architecture. Student self-governance is a constant touchstone -- and, in light of recent events, a touchy subject -- at U.Va. Its cornerstone, and the thing many say sets U.Va. apart, is the student-run Honor System, which provides for the expulsion of students who lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. Conduct violations not covered by the Honor System are handled by a separate student-run judiciary committee, and the student paper, The Cavalier Daily, elects its own leaders and operates without faculty oversight.

Nonetheless, student unruliness is older than honor in Jefferson's "academical village."

The Honor System itself was founded in a mood of sobriety fostered by legendary disturbances on campus. In 1837, the chairman of the faculty was seized and horsewhipped by two students as a hundred others looked on. Three years later, a professor was shot and fatally wounded on the Lawn. Two years later the Honor System was introduced. U.Va.'s lofty principles were not forged from the nobility of its students, in other words, but from the failure of same.

"These scions of the Southern aristocracy behaved like hooligans and almost tore the place down," writes Virginius Dabney in Mr. Jefferson's University, a narrative history of the school, "a fact that grieved and disappointed Jefferson and actually reduced him to tears."

The group of five fraternity brothers that set out in the early morning hours of Friday, November 21, 1997, up University Avenue from the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house to the local 7-Eleven, included Smith and Tigrett, two scions of the modern Southern aristocracy.

On the way back to the Deke house, those in the car thought they saw someone they knew, on foot, waiting to cross University Avenue, someone from the Memphis University School, where Tigrett and Wesley McCluney, the driver, attended high school. They called to him. He was not who they thought he was, but he called back to them. Later court testimony sheds little light on exactly what was said, but those in the car agree that there was trash talking between the car and Sandy Kory, the young man on foot.

Instead of heading back to the Deke house, McCluney turned the car and followed alongside Kory at a walking pace as the talk between Kory and the car continued. Kory stepped off the road and cut across a grassy area in front of the library. McCluney pulled the car into an alley to turn around and head back to the Deke house.

Then, according to the testimony of those in the car, Kory looked back and gave the Dekes the finger. McCluney pulled the car back onto the road, and drove to the end of a dead-end access road, where Kory eventually emerged on his way back to his dorm. In the minutes that followed, Kory got hit, hard. Hard enough, he says, to require two root canals and to fracture a bone above his top front teeth. (This is the "broken jaw" that litters press accounts, a term Smith's attorney characterizes as "deceptive ... although perhaps technically true," adding that he has seen no medical documentation of the latter injury.)

According to Kory, a slight, somewhat self-conscious 19-year-old who was in his first-year at U.Va. at the time of the incident, the attack was as unexpected as it was unprovoked. As he reached the bottom of the steep steps that lead to the access road where McCluney's car was parked, he says he heard two people behind him who asked if he was afraid. He admitted he was and then was punched by someone in front of him. He says he was punched twice and kicked once, all in the face, before he was able to run away, eventually to the emergency room.

He has undergone several medical procedures and one of his front teeth is still slightly discolored.

"I was bleaching it for a while," he says during a conversation outside the Newcomb Hall food court, a stone's throw away from where the incident took place. "But then decided to stop bleaching it, so I'd remember until this whole thing's over."

Like all five Dekes, Kory admits he had been drinking earlier in the night, but, like Smith, says he was sober by 5 a.m., the time of the incident. Kory also says the tone of the initial exchange between himself and the Dekes wasn't particularly hostile and he prefers the term "banter" -- the recurring word in court testimony -- to "trash talk."

"It even occurred to me to ask them for a ride," he says.

Smith and Tigrett tell a different story. According to their testimony, supported by others in the car, Smith and another of the Dekes, Wesley Kaupinen, expressed their belief that they should head home, but when the car reached the dead end, Tigrett and Bradley Kintz jumped out of the car and began horsing around, wielding imaginary guns and dodging behind trees. Eventually, Kory appeared and the trash talk continued between him, Kintz, and Tigrett. Smith then says he went to tell Tigrett and Kintz to get back into the car when Kory became belligerent.

"It got a little heated between Kerr and Sandy Kory," says Smith. "I went down to break it up and told Kerr and Brad to go back to the car. The guy was still kind of standing there, just standing there staring us down as they were walking off, and I approach him to let him know everything's cool, not to worry about it. I figure, I'm bigger than this guy, he's not going to try to fight me. So I go up to him, I'm like, 'Hey, look, they're drunk, you're drunk, go home.'"

Then, Smith says, Kory insulted him, calling him a "fat ass," a claim Kory denies.

"He cursed me a couple times, he insulted me. One thing led to another," he says. "I hit him. There was one punch thrown throughout the whole thing. It was by me. The other two guys, they weren't even close enough."

News of the incident quickly spread across campus, via a mass e-mail distributed by University of Virginia police. Over the weekend, an anonymous witness electronically filed a "Silent Watch Crime Report" with police that described those involved, but also largely supported Smith and Tigrett's account of the incident. "I saw no kicking or punching," writes the witness, a student photographer who spoke with McCluney by the parked car. Advertisements asking the witness to come forward, placed by attorneys for Smith in The Cavalier Daily this spring, proved unfruitful.

On Monday, realizing that the incident described in the e-mail was the one they had been involved in, the five Dekes filed reports with police, including Wesley Kaupinen, who left the scene when the car reached the dead end and headed back to the Deke house on foot. In his report, Kaupinen, the only one of the Dekes who was never charged with a crime, said he left the scene when he realized "the severity of the situation."

"I thought that the trash talking was unnecessary," is how he glossed his statement to Commonwealth's Attorney James L. Camblos III in later court testimony. Kaupinen, who -- as of the spring semester -- was living with Tigrett, declined further comment.

"They obviously concocted a story to cover their ass," says Kory.

"It's one of the most outrageous assault and battery cases I've dealt with as a prosecutor," says Commonwealth's Attorney Camblos, sitting in his modern office in the basement of the historic Albemarle County Circuit Courthouse. "Totally unprovoked, without any justification."

Camblos has been the state prosecutor for Albemarle County since 1992. He is a barrel-chested man with a booming voice. His silver hair and bow tie serve to confirm that he is a scion in his own right, a fifth-generation U.Va. man and proud of it.

"My great-great-grandfather was at U.Va. when the Honor Code was established," he says. "Do I care about U.Va.? Absolutely I do."

And just as Smith does not hide his exasperation, Camblos does not hide his contempt.

"They didn't know him. They had started the conversation as he was crossing the road, thinking he was somebody else," he says. "And they mouthed off to him and he mouthed off to them, and they kept coming and they kept coming."

When Kintz, Tigrett, and McCluney entered their pleas of no contest to disorderly conduct last May, Camblos recounted how, "when these three were confronted, each one of them said if I had been by myself, I wouldn't have gone after him. If I had been with one other I wouldn't have gone after him it was very much like a pack, like an animal pack."

The following day, at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing to determine if Smith would be charged with malicious wounding, a felony, Camblos agreed to Smith's guilty plea to misdemeanor assault and battery with a sentence of 12 months with 10 suspended, 400 hours of community service, restitution, and anger management.

Smith spent 21 days in jail. Tigrett, Kintz, and McCluney each spent four.

Court records from that day suggest that, had Camblos and Smith's attorney not reached an agreement, Smith might very well have been tried for a felony.

"I could've taken Smith to a grand jury in a heartbeat," says Camblos. "Broke his jaw? Absolutely."

Francis McQ. Lawrence, Richard Smith's Charlottesville attorney, did not go to U.Va. He went to Washington and Lee in Lexington, Virginia, 70 miles west of Charlottesville. His office, on the top floor of a century-old brickhouse just off Court Square, is all windows overlooking Park Avenue. You can almost see Jim Camblos' office from here.

Shortly after entering his plea, one of the Dekes, Wesley McCluney, graduated. His university disciplinary case was handled by William Harmon, Vice President for Student Affairs, who sentenced him to anger management counseling. He now works for FedEx in northern Virginia.

The other three -- Smith, Tigrett, and Kintz, all second-year students at the time of the incident -- still had to face the student-run University Judiciary Committee in a hearing scheduled for November 21st.

"By November, adults were intimately involved in the process," says Lawrence. "Those adults were a dean at the university, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Albemarle County, a woman from Memphis, and a police officer. So what happened was that these four adults for some reason decided that this was going to become for them some cause celebre, and they began to have a personal involvement in this matter, in what should have been a routine student matter dealt with by students."

Lawrence tried to stop it. By the day before the hearing, he too was involved. He wrote a letter to Vice President Harmon asking that the hearing be continued, in part because he believed a civil suit on behalf of Kory was imminent and in part because of the involvement of an outside attorney -- Commonwealth's Attorney Camblos.

"I am not aware that Mr. Camblos has any firsthand knowledge in this matter and is, in fact, being called as a witness simply to opine as to his view of the case, an opinion which ought not to be heard by the students," Lawrence writes, asking that the hearing be rescheduled to a time when he, as Smith's attorney, can be present.

According to Richard Smith, who delivered Lawrence's letter during a meeting that included Smith's father, Tigrett, and Kintz, Harmon assured him the hearing would be postponed.

"In my mind, it doesn't matter what these kids [the UJC] want to do," says Smith, recalling his thoughts of the day before the hearing. "Harmon told us it would be postponed so it's not going to matter. We shook his hand and left. No misunderstanding. It will be postponed."

But there was a misunderstanding. The hearing went off as scheduled and the prosecution proceeded without opposition, securing not only the students' conviction, but their expulsion.

The transcript of those proceedings has not been released, making it difficult to see what led to such an extreme sanction. In the Honor System, the only punishment is expulsion, but no one has been expelled by the UJC in at least a decade. A survey of UJC cases dating back to 1990 reveals several instances of unprovoked assaults, some resulting in serious bodily injury, for which defendants were not expelled but received suspensions "in abeyance," conditional on future good behavior.

According to advocates for Smith, the one-sided hearing was a farce.

"The opening arguments were some of the most inflammatory things," says Mark Stancil, a third-year law student and Smith's latest UJC counsel. "There were repeated references to who Richard's father is, to the fact that Richard's father is wealthy. There were direct statements, basically, that students are afraid of money, students are afraid physically, and that's why they're afraid of Richard Smith and these guys, so you got to throw them out."

Stancil says that among the things testified to at the hearing were several prior incidents involving Smith -- three fights, all of which Smith says were self-defense and for which UJC charges were never brought, and an alleged case of vandalism involving an ex-girlfriend's car. None of the testimony offered in the hearing was firsthand, says Stancil, adding that the parties involved in two of the incidents -- one of the fights and the allegation of vandalism -- were prepared to testify on behalf of Smith in future proceedings.

Memphian Jan Rossini offered further testimony regarding a neck injury her son, Joseph Rossini, allegedly sustained from Smith in a Christian Brothers High School gym class in 1994, a complaint that was settled out-of-court after arbitration in 1996. Shortly after the UJC hearing, Smith filed suit against Rossini, claiming that she had defamed him during a conversation she had with Commonwealth's Attorney Camblos a year earlier, during which she allegedly called Smith a "bad kid," a "lunatic," and a "maniac." The suit is still pending in Albemarle County Circuit Court. Rossini declined comment, although her Charlottesville attorney, Thomas Albro, says the suit has "no legal merit whatsoever."

"The kids weren't there," Lawrence continues. "And the four adults basically had a captive audience of the student judiciary and they talked to them. And part of that was a very persuasive argument and presentation made by the Commonwealth's Attorney as to why at least Mr. Smith should be expelled from the university. This is a situation where a professional prosecutor, who is over 50 years of age, appears in a student tribunal and very articulately and very effectively argues for the supreme penalty for these two students with no opposition. He is a very effective lawyer. They had no chance in that trial, being tried in their absence with no representation. They had no chance."

Camblos, for his part, denies that he took any special interest in the case, other than taking notice of the severity of the assault.

"That's Mr. Lawrence's opinion. That's untrue from my standpoint," he says. "The student prosecutors wanted me to appear and I did out of respect for the University of Virginia and the principles for which it stands."

Camblos does confirm that a third-year law student who aided the prosecution was working under him in a prosecutorial clinic.

The expulsion ruling was big news on campus, despite the fact that UJC proceedings are confidential.

"When there comes to be a case that's so different and so extreme, we feel we have a duty to cover it," says Michael Greenwald, editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily, which has followed the case since the initial incident. "When we found out that they'd been expelled for it -- and that's essentially when the saga started -- we became firmly committed to following it and think it's justifiable to break those confidentiality rules in order to do so."

After the hearing, then-UJC chair Amanda Morrow filed expulsion papers with the registrar, but Smith, Tigrett, and Kintz remained enrolled at U.Va.

"We don't argue with the fact that people deserve an appeal," says second-year student Jessica Anderson. "But for instance, in Honor cases, when you appeal, you do it from out of school. You aren't allowed to continue going here."

By late April, four months after the UJC had ruled for expulsion, the case had gone through a series of procedural twists and turns but was still not resolved. On April 27th, several hundred students, including Anderson, marched across the Lawn -- from Homer to the Rotunda -- to demand that the expulsion be upheld. Shortly thereafter, Smith, Tigrett, and Kintz broke their silence, scheduling press interviews through a Richmond-based public-affairs specialist retained by Tigrett.

"The thing about this case is that it's lasted so long," Anderson says, "and has therefore attracted more attention because people have just become frustrated that it's been well over a year and we're still at square one as far as the UJC trial."

After November's expulsion ruling, the case landed on the desk of Vice President Harmon, who reviews all UJC decisions. Without ever publicly confirming or denying Smith's account of their November 20th meeting, Harmon sent the case to the Judicial Review Board, an independent body of faculty, students, and administrators. In early February, the JRB granted a retrial, to be executed, not by the UJC, but by an Appellate Hearing Panel appointed to hear the case.

Shortly thereafter, Sandy Kory issued a letter to the university community, responding to an earlier letter from Smith, accusing the defendants of "trying to manipulate the University's judicial system to postpone and thus avoid the punishment that was fairly rendered by their peers," and expressing his hope "that the administration will not overlook the verdict arrived at by the Judiciary Committee."

The Cavalier Daily soon followed suit in the first of several editorials calling for the UJC's ruling to be upheld.

"The embattled concept of 'student self-governance' surely will die if the JRB rules against the UJC's decision," the paper claimed.

The JRB did not rule at all, but instead sent the case back to the UJC for retrial.

In the meantime, UJC action brought, this time, by Smith resulted in a guilty verdict against Sandy Kory for breaching confidentiality in his open letter to the university.

"He's trying to sway public opinion because he knows that the only way he's going to really get us is to get everybody riled up," says Smith. "And it's worked for him. He's got the whole school in an uproar, because they don't know the facts, because they only know his side of the thing when he's not even supposed to be talking about it."

"I discussed the incident with many people, but I'm allowed to discuss the incident," says Kory. "I don't think my open letter violated confidentiality."

Tigrett, in particular, bristles at Kory's claim that he is trying to postpone judgment. Over a year ago, a month before entering his plea in court, Tigrett was set to go before the UJC but the hearing was delayed at the discretion of prosecutors, a fact Kory confirms.

Judgment would be postponed once again. A second UJC trial, scheduled for April 17th, was postponed when the student chairwoman recused herself for conflict of interest. The Cavalier Daily reported further that all three student prosecutors had resigned, citing a fear of legal action, sparked, perhaps, by the Rossini suit and by the fact that the defense had asked for, and been granted, permission to have a court reporter present at the proceedings.

"The argument that we're trying to delay this is totally absurd," says Stancil. "I was ready to go." Stancil says the hearing would have occurred if the chairwoman hadn't recused herself, adding that both sides had misgivings about her impartiality, a fact supported by reports in The Cavalier Daily.

The day before the trial date, the student paper -- which by this time was running a ticker on its Web site chronicling how long it had been since the assault -- ran its most pointed editorial to date. Titled "FedEx-pel them," it did not mince words.

"We hope the Committee will end this weary year-and-a-half of technicalities and appeals by re-expelling the students and forcing them off Grounds once and for all," it said.

Two days after the trial was postponed, the paper ran another editorial, titled "Kick them out."

"The University community should be outraged," it said. "There has not been enough public uproar over this case."

There soon was.

Students and faculty alike began sounding off in the paper's pages. A rally was planned. Incendiary fliers, disavowed by both the paper and protestors, reading "Fuck UJC! It is time to take justice into our own hands," and advocating the trio's "lynching" began appearing on campus.

"All these people have been chanting for expulsion and they've never been heard," says Stancil. "I even met with the student leaders planning the rally before and explained to them: No one's ever been thrown out, this is what actually happened that night. No one's interested. It's a better story, it's more exciting. The signs at the rally were about Federal Express and that's why people are interested in the case. There's the belief that money is influencing this."

"This year has been a very bad year in terms of on-grounds violence," says fourth-year student Steven Kung. "It's been happening all over the place. We've also had very many anti-violence protests. The whole university is concerned about violence."

Kung, who spoke at the April rally, was attacked on campus last October, just a few hundred yards from where Smith admits he punched Sandy Kory. Three men, who he believes were students, walked past him at 10 p.m. After they passed he heard one of them run up behind him. His assailant punched him twice. A lineup was assembled but no one was apprehended. Kung says that even if expulsion hasn't been the UJC punishment for assault in the past, it should be.

"We don't think what the UJC has been doing reflects the concerns of the university community as whole," he says. "It's time for a change."

Anderson agrees.

"I think in the past people have thought it's unfair that people didn't get expelled for assault but this case just happened to be one that everyone finally got motivated for," she says.

Kung and Anderson disagree, however, on why that is.

"I think a lot of it, truthfully, has to do with the fact that there might be abuse on the part of Richard Smith's family," says Kung. "The fact that because they're rich they'll be able to stay in and be able to intimidate those people. That's all in the back of everybody's mind, and it adds a lot of passion to the issue."

Last year, days after Richard Smith pled guilty in Charlottesville, Fred Smith delivered the commencement address at U.Va.'s Darden Graduate School of Business, and the younger Smith says his family donated modestly to the construction of a new football stadium during his first year. Fred Smith declined to be interviewed for this article. Tigrett's mother, Pat Kerr Tigrett, is a member of U.Va.'s Parents Program Committee, a fund-raising organization, and says she has donated $10,000 to the university, adding that she has scaled back her fund-raising activities in light of recent events so as to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

"There are lots of suspicions going around," Anderson admits. "However, that hasn't been a part of the protest at all, and in a way it would be unfair if it were. Steven's voicing some concerns that a lot of students here have had, but nothing has been proven. And although that's there, it's really not one of our major concerns. That has added to some sensationalism in the whole case, but it's not one of the real driving forces behind this at all."

The driving forces, as expressed in the planks of a petition presented to Vice President Harmon last month, are support for the UJC and the view that "this assault merits the immediate expulsion of Richard Smith, Bradley Kintz, and Harrison [Kerr] Tigrett from the University." The petition carried some 1,300 signatures.

"At this point we don't think we can get a fair trial," Stancil said during exam week. "In my mind there's no way they could get a fair trial from the UJC, after all the press and all the bad blood."

Until recently, the admin-istration had remained conspicuously quiet about the case. Neither Vice President Harmon nor Assistant Dean of Students Aaron Laushway, who testified in the November UJC hearing, returned calls from the Flyer; and the University's General Counsel, Paul Forch, declined to talk with a reporter in his office early last month.

The day after exams, however, the administration laid the groundwork for taking the case out of the hands of students. The Board of Visitors, a body appointed by the governor to administer U.Va., passed a resolution in mid-May affirming the authority of the university's president to settle such matters. The resolution did not mention a specific case, but its function was clear.

U.Va. has been down this road before. In 1994, the Board of Visitors ordered a retrial for Christopher Leggett, a student who had been expelled the previous year by the Honors Committee for cheating on an exam and who had launched a number of unsuccessful appeals before finally threatening to sue. He was found not guilty in the second trial.

The decision touched off a storm of controversy, with critics claiming the university had buckled under outside pressure and sold out U.Va.'s tradition of student self-governance in the process.

The present case puts the administration in a similar position, although at least Leggett went away satisfied.

On May 17th, a lengthy hearing was held before a panel composed of two administrators, one faculty member, and one student to decide the fate of Smith, Tigrett, and Kintz. The next day, after attending the hearing, John Tigrett was found dead in his Washington, D.C., hotel room at the age of 85.

"He was so disappointed by the lack of leadership at the University of Virginia," says Pat Tigrett of her late husband's view of the situation.

The recommendation handed down by the panel, which at press time was awaiting action from University President John T. Casteen, may not satisfy anyone. According to reports in The Cavalier Daily, the panel recommends that Smith be suspended for two semesters, counting the summer term, and that Tigrett and Kintz each be suspended for one, excluding the summer term.

It looks like a half-measure, more severe than UJC precedent, but less severe than that called for by the UJC's supporters, and -- should Casteen act in accordance with the recommendation -- the administration is likely to draw fire from both sides.

Both sides will at least agree about one thing: that the case comes down to money.

"It's all about greed." says Pat Tigrett. "This would have gone away long ago if we had paid money to this twisted, whimpy mentality we've been dealing with."

"I lost money by pressing criminal charges," protests Kory, whose father is a vice president with American Management Systems, a publicly traded technology consulting firm in Fairfax, Virginia. "I'm losing money by following through judicially. If I'm going to sue them, I can get more money from them if I say I won't press charges. Any claim about me trying to make money off this and wanting to settle is ridiculous."

Kory has yet to bring a civil suit against Smith or his fraternity brothers, although his attorney, Lloyd Snook, confirms that a demand has been made.

Meanwhile, the Tigretts have retained the legal services of Kirk T. Schroder, president of the Virginia state Board of Education.

Schroder could not be reached and Lawrence declined to speculate on future action, but lawsuits seem inevitable.

"We are dealing with the hand that has been dealt us and we have in essence become stronger because of it," says Pat Tigrett. "We are not going away."

Meanwhile some, like Commonwealth's Attorney Camblos, see in all of this the death knell of a hallowed tradition.

"It's a public university. It's rated by many as the best public university in the country," he says. "It's a very, very good school with a very treasured tradition of Jefferson, and it's one of the Honor Code and self-governance by the students, and the students have been strangled by the process. They just can't deal with all the attorneys and just the volume of what's been thrown at them by these people with all this money. It has just absolutely strangled the system. I have a real fear that the judiciary committee will never be able to operate after Smith and Tigrett are finished with it."

The UJC as much as admitted defeat in a statement announcing that the case had been referred to an ad hoc panel.

"The UJC constitution allows us to refer disciplinary cases to the vice president if more cases are pending than we can handle effectively," said UJC chair Brian Hudak in the statement. Hudak did not return calls from the Flyer.

All by itself, the case involving Smith and Tigrett seems to have been more case than the committee could handle. With or without overt pressure, wealth -- even passively wielded -- exerts a force that attracts as much as it repels, warping the space around it. Money controls even as it conjures those who would like to resist and control it.

In part, it's a function of today's litigious society. In part, it's older than the Smith or Leggett cases, and at least as old as the end of Jefferson's optimism.

As Dabney recounts: "Jefferson had worked out a plan for student self-governance, for he believed that young men from the best families could be counted on to govern themselves and remain reasonably well-behaved.

"He was promptly disillusioned."

Thoroughly, and on both counts.

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