Professor suing Furman University amid Unite the Right investigation

This Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 image shows a man in a blue checkered shirt and tan hat -...
This Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 image shows a man in a blue checkered shirt and tan hat - allegedly a Furman University professor - at the entrance to Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va. during the Unite the Right rally.((AP Photo/Steve Helber))
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 4:54 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Chris Healy, a Furman professor who has been on leave since he was identified as attending the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is now suing the university.

More than five years after the deadly rally, which white supremacists organized in response to the city’s plan to remove a Confederate statue, a group called “Ignite the Right” posted pictures of Healy in a database of attendees.

Furman President Elizabeth Davis issued a statement on Sep. 30 saying university leaders were investigating an unnamed faculty member’s “alleged association with other organizations connected with white supremacist groups.”

“As we continue to look into this matter, this professor will not teach or be on campus,” Davis said. “The views of the organizers of the Unite the Right rally do not reflect the values that I hold, and they are not the values that we have committed to in our vision, mission and values statements.”

Healy filed a lawsuit on Thursday and his attorney Stephen Brown released a statement to FOX Carolina saying Healy is “shocked and dismayed by this sudden and unjustified punishment.”

“He has not perpetrated, nor has he even been accused of perpetrating, any act of violence,” the statement reads. “Similarly, he has not made, nor even been accused of making, violent statements, threats of violence, or statements inciting violence.”

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a man drove his car through a crowd of peaceful counterprotesters at Unite the Right.

Healy’s attorney says he only engaged in a peaceful demonstration at the rally to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue and, “there has unquestionably been an attempt by the administration of Furman University to intimidate Professor Healy because of the exercise of his political rights and privileges guaranteed to him as a citizen.”

A spokesperson for Furman declined to comment on the lawsuit but said, “We stand by President Davis’s statement of Sep. 30.”

In the lawsuit, Healy accuses Furman of breach of contract and demands a jury trial, saying prior attempts to resolve the matter have been “wholly ignored.” Healy, a tenured professor, says he has not been given the due process for dismissal or suspension set forth in his contract - and claims he has not had a chance to defend himself in the investigation, which he expects to continue into 2023.

Healy says he received an email on Nov. 17 notifying him that his upcoming spring course was reassigned to another instructor.

“Dr. Healy recognizes the essential role that free speech plays in our society and will act vigorously, yet lawfully, to oppose the suppression of such rights,” says the statement released by Brown.

Below is the full statement:

Stay with FOX Carolina for updates on this developing story.