New Gilley e-mail hints at intimacy
July 20, 2001
The University of Tennessee on Thursday released an e-mail message that suggests an attempted intimate encounter occurred between former university President Dr. J. Wade Gilley and former administrator Pamela S. Reed. Ms. Reed's Chattanooga lawyer called the document a fabrication.
Release of the e-mail comes 36 days after it was first requested by the Chattanooga Times Free Press and 29 days after UT officials said they discovered the e-mail and others released Thursday.
"This seems like part of a continuing coverup by the university," said Bruce Bailey, a lawyer who represents the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The e-mails some of which describe a contentious relationship between UT Vice President T. Dwayne McCay and Ms. Reed -- were found in Ms. Reed's office by workers from the university's internal audit department, according to Emerson "Eli" Fly, acting university president.
"The existence of the e-mail was rumored for a long time, but we never had proof of it until it was found on June 20," Mr. Fly said.
Anthony "Bud" Jackson, Mr. Bailey's law partner, asked about the rumored e-mail and described its content to UT General Counsel Catherine Mizell on June 14. The university should have released the e-mail when it was discovered a week later, he said.
Rumors about the e-mail's content had circulated among university staff for months before Dr. Gilley's abrupt resignation on June 1, Mr. Fly said. Dr. Gilley cited illness and job stresses as his reasons for stepping down after 22 months on the job.
The e-mail message from Dr. Gilley to Ms. Reed dated Feb. 19 begins with what appears to be a reference to a failed intimate encounter.
"Needless to say, the release of what appears to be a fabricated and/or altered e-mail that ostensibly is private is quite objectionable," Ms. Reed's lawyer, John Konvalinka, wrote on Thursday in a letter to Ms. Mizell.
Mr. Fly said the university did not immediately release the messages to news organizations that had requested them because university officials did not know about them.
"We released the e-mails we knew about at the time they were requested," Mr. Fly said of requests made in early June for correspondence between Dr. Gilley and Ms. Reed.
Dr. Gilley was upset by the release of the e-mail with the sexual reference.
"I am disappointed that the university has chosen to release what appears to be private e-mail using private servers," he wrote Thursday in an e-mail to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "I am particularly concerned that certain detailed private information regarding my diabetic condition was released to the public."
The e-mail makes reference to medical tests Dr. Gilley's doctor had suggested.
Dr. McCay said Thursday that he had first seen the e-mail with the sexual reference "ages ago," but did not tell anyone about it immediately.
"I didn't see enough of it to understand what it was, and I questioned whether it was real," he said.
Dr. McCay said he worried about what to do about the e-mail and eventually told someone about it. He would not name whom he told.
Ms. Reed questioned Dr. McCay's account.
"If he said he saw it earlier, he must have seen it on his own computer screen," Ms. Reed said Thursday. She would not clarify the statement.
Attention focused on the nature of the relationship between Dr. Gilley and Ms. Reed after his resignation. His departure followed by about a week the beginning of an investigation into whether Ms. Reed fabricated portions of her resume. She resigned June 13, two days after meeting with university officials about their findings.
UT officials have said she would have been fired for having false information on her resume if she had not resigned.
Other e-mails released Thursday describe what both Dr. McCay and Ms. Reed said was a rocky relationship.
In one message Ms. Reed reported to Dr. Gilley about an outburst Dr. McCay had in Washington, D.C., in which he criticized Dr. Gilley in front of a UT consultant and others.
"That was exaggerated. I disagreed with something Dr. Gilley had asked for, but I don't remember saying anything about it in front of others," Dr. McCay said Thursday.
"It was no exaggeration; I was furious that he would try to undermine the president in front of our hired federal relations expert and others," Ms. Reed said.
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By Gary Tanner