Stephen Schoenthaler, the professor who headed a tainted survey used to gauge juror bias in the Scott Peterson case, remains on paid leave, university spokesman Don Hansen said Tuesday.
A tenured professor, Schoenthaler hasn't taught at California State University, Stanislaus, for almost a year. That was about the time the university kicked off an investigation into his role in the survey.
Several students told The Bee in December 2003 that they made up results for the survey, which ultimately factored into a judge's decision to move the Peterson trial from Stanislaus County to San Mateo County.
The students claimed they used bogus responses because of deadline pressure to complete the survey, on which they received a grade.
A separate investigation led to 25 of 58students in the class being disciplined for cheating and 31 students being cleared of any wrongdoing. Last fall, two cases remained unresolved.
Stacey Morgan-Foster, vice president for student affairs, could not be reached Tuesday to discuss the status of the final two cases.
Schoenthaler has taught sociology and criminal justice at the university since 1982. It was last January that he abruptly stopped teaching a few days before the end of winter term.
He's been on paid leave since spring of 2004. At first, he performed unspecified duties outside the classroom. By the fall term, he was on leave without duties.
A request for Schoenthaler's payroll records since Jan. 29, 2004, was not granted by deadline Tuesday.
Hansen said the investigation into possible scientific misconduct by Schoenthaler, for his role in overseeing the flawed survey, is complete.
"The findings of the investigation are not public information," he added. "I do not know what those findings are."
Hansen said it's a personnel matter subject to confidentiality laws and collective bargaining contracts.
Schoenthaler will remain on leave while the administrative process leading to final action continues, Hansen said.
"A finding has been made," he said. "Now it's up to the parties involved to respond to all of it."
Alternate teacher takes class
Schoenthaler was on the class schedule to teach Historical and Contemporary Criminal Justice this term. Fifteen students signed up. About a dozen came to the first day of class Tuesday.
Students found Dave Young, a retired Modesto police officer, teaching the course. However, the students, none of whom would speak for attribution, seemed indifferent to the change.
Some said they didn't care or pay attention to who was teaching. Others said they'd never heard of Schoenthaler. One said she'd heard a rumor that
Schoenthaler will never come back, though she'd hoped to see him.
"He's a really good professor," she said.
Reached outside his Turlock home Tuesday, Schoenthaler declined to comment.
Paul O'Brien, chairman of the sociology and criminal justice department, said the administration told him the investigation is complete, though he's seen nothing in writing.
"My gut tells me that they've made a decision and he now has time to refute it," O'Brien said, adding that he suspects the matter will conclude later this month.
O'Brien said this semester his department was under the "typical pressure" of having to scramble to find a replacement for Schoenthaler. This is the third semester the department has had to find last-minute replacements.
Richard Herman, a Modesto defense attorney who represented two of Schoenthaler's students in the school's investigation, said he expects results of the Schoenthaler probe to remain under wraps.
"That's their own internal business, what they do with a tenured professor of long standing," he said. "Within the framework of the tenured rules, it becomes a matter of internal discipline. It's not a matter of external discipline."
Bee staff writer Melanie Turner can be reached at 578-2366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.