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Chico State biology professor sues estranged wife, colleague over their claims he made gun threats

California State University, Chico
Wikimedia Commons
California State University, Chico

Suspended Chico State biology professor David Stachura on Monday filed a libel lawsuit against his estranged wife and a biology lecturer in Butte County Superior Court, claiming they each fabricated claims that he spoke with them about shooting colleagues.

The suit comes days after a Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order sought by the California State University system against Stachura on behalf of three Chico State academics, including the lecturer named in the new lawsuit, Betsey Tamietti. The suit also names Stachura’s estranged wife, Miranda King, as a defendant. A hearing on the university’s request for a restraining order is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Stachura was suspended indefinitely after EdSource reported in December that he allegedly threatened to kill two colleagues who cooperated in an investigation that found he had a prohibited sexual affair with a graduate student he supervised in violation of CSU policy.

He denied the affair. When the matter became public, it roiled the campus of 13,000, with faculty and students blasting the university’s decision to keep the security threat secret. Provost Debra Larson, who approved light punishment of Stachura for the affair, resigned. Students and faculty have demanded increased security and other changes.

In the newly filed suit, Stachura’s lawyer, Kasra Parsad, claims King gave a false declaration in 2021 when she asked the court for a restraining order against Stachura. The couple is locked in ongoing divorce and child custody cases. She did that, Parsad wrote, to gain leverage in the child-custody dispute.

“For the next year, Stachura lived with constant shame and ridicule. King’s false statements caused him to be ostracized by his colleagues and overshadowed his life work,” Parsad wrote.

King did not return a message Tuesday. King told EdSource earlier this month she had received a letter from Parsad telling her she would be sued if she didn’t retract the statement in her declaration. She told EdSource she had told the truth and would not back down.

The suit also claims Tamietti made false statements at a Dec. 12 online campus forum when she said Stachura had talked to her about shooting people in the biology department and threatened her to remain silent. Parsad wrote that the statements were false and caused Stachura “a loss to his reputation” and brought him “shame, embarrassment (and) ridicule.”

In an email to EdSource on Tuesday, Tamietti’s attorney, Jean-Paul Jassy, of Los Angeles, wrote that “the suit is meritless.”

Court records show the suit was assigned to Judge Stephen E. Benson, with a case management conference scheduled for Aug. 2.

Michael Weber of the Chico Enterprise-Record contributed to this report.

Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter at EdSource. He is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter.
EdSource believes that access to a quality education is an important right of all children. We further believe that an informed, involved public is necessary to strengthen California’s schools for the benefit of the state’s children, its civic life, and its economy.