UI professor Gary Hunninghake to resign

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

Click to view the resignation and acceptance letters. (PDF)
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University of Iowa Professor Gary Hunninghake is set to resign at the end of May, nearly one year after the university placed him on paid administrative leave in relation to a UI police investigation into child-pornography charges.

The former director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science has racked up a $360,000 salary since he was placed on leave April 23, 2010. UI police closed their child-pornography investigation without filing charges in December 2010 — and his attorney maintained the accusations were groundless .

On Feb. 24, UIspokesman Tom Moore said officials were "taking action" against Hunninghake but was unable to disclose exactly what that meant.

Hunninghake, 64, stepped down from his position March 31 in a letter to interim Provost Barry Butler, which was released to the media on Thursday. The letter said his resignation is effective May 31.

"I will always value the many academic opportunities provided to me through the university and will long relish the personal and professional relationships I have been privileged to enjoy," wrote Hunninghake, a Coralville resident.

Associate Provost for Faculty Tom Rice responded to the letter April 1, accepting Hunninghake's resignation.

"The University of Iowa accepts your resignation, and in light of it, we will postpone the hearing under the Ethics Policy," Rice wrote in the letter. Both Rice and Moore declined to comment on the nature of the "hearing."

Rice deferred all comment on the resignation to Moore, who said he could not comment on what action would have been taken if he did not resign, because it is a personnel issue.

Leon Spies, Hunninghake's attorney, said his client had no further comment.

"I am absolutely certain Dr. Hunninghake does not want to make any statement at this time," Spies said Thursday.

The nature of the UI police's investigation into Hunninghake came to light in Februrary after The Daily Iowan obtained Chicago police records.

"We're dealing with a gentleman who has devoted his life and his professional skills to the institution that he loves, and this is horribly painful for him," Spies said in Feburary.

Ada Meloy, the general counsel for the American Council on Education, said Hunninghake's decision to resign is not uncommon.

"I cannot comment on the specifics of any situation, but it is not uncommon for someone who has been on paid leave to ultimately resign," Meloy said.

One day after he was placed on paid leave, Hunninghake traveled to a medical conference in Chicago. While there, he faked a stabbing and robbery.

According to documents obtained by the DI, Hunninghake told police he was approached by three men while jogging on the Riverwalk in Chicago. He said the men demanded his wallet and stabbed him three times.

Once UI police received word of the stabbing incident, they became suspicious, and contacted Chicago police. After further interviews, investigation reports said there were "blatant" inconsistencies in the stories he told the two departments, and Hunninghake was charged with the Class C felony of falsifying a report.

He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct on Jan. 25.

Hunninghake filed a petition to have the documents associated with the UI police investigation sealed on Dec. 23, 2010. They have never been released.

A hearing regarding the petition has been set for June 13. Spies said Hunninghake's resignation would not affect the hearing or the petition.

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