Sometimes the process of trying to get the story becomes the story. A good case in point is the story of
Mike Davis, the popular and veteran teacher Gonzaga College High School, who was fired under mysterious circumstances back in February.
At the time, Gonzaga’s president, Reverend
Stephen Planning, informed the school
community that Davis was fired because he “fail[ed] to maintain expected
professional boundaries between
teacher and student.” The vague insinuations created a
firestorm of controversy among Davis’s supporters, including students
and parents. Davis’s friend and lawyer at the time,
Martin Oliverio, said the wording “implies that there was inappropriate sexual or physical conduct between Mike and a student.”
But no one on either side would say what happened or
reveal the identity of Davis’s accuser, who is now in his twenties. We
talked to school officials, parents, students, and family
members, none of whom would go on the record with the nature of
the charges. What we could fairly thread together from these
conversations was that whatever happened occurred several years
ago and involved a student with whom Davis had some kind of
relationship. His supporters insist the relationship was appropriate.
The school says otherwise. And then the story hits a wall.
Over the weekend we received a copy of a letter written by
Oliverio and distributed to Davis’s supporters on Facebook and
elsewhere. It’s an update on the “unfair” way Gonzaga
“destroyed” Davis’s 25-year career. But there’s also some news. Oliverio
says that Davis recently hired
Peter Cohen, a Washington lawyer who
specializes in personnel disputes and unfair employment practices, and
hints strongly that Davis
will sue Gonzaga. “Mike and his wife, Devon, sadly concluded
there was no other way to salvage Mike’s reputation and their
destroyed lives than through legal action. I’m sure you can see
why they feel Mike has no choice but to seek justice.”
Logically, we called Mike Davis at home to talk to him
about this, but while friendly he refused to talk, either on or off
the record. “There is no such thing as off the record,” he
said, and referred me to his public relations representative. We
also tried to reach Cohen and Oliverio, but could only leave
messages. We put in a call to Gonzaga’s lawyer,
Jack Vardaman, at Williams & Connolly and
sent an e-mail to Father Planning at the school. No responses, as yet.
The only other person
we did talk to was Davis’s public relations man, who said he
would look into our question about whether Davis was, in fact,
in the process of suing Gonzaga.
On a side note, we heard that Davis’s son was accepted at Gonzaga for freshman year and that Davis and his wife, regardless
of the dispute with the school, planned to send him there.
In his letter, Oliverio wrote, “It is a tragedy that
his matter is now entering a more confrontational and unpleasant phase.
Mike has a family to support. . . . He needs to press his case
now.” The letter includes an address for a Michael T. Davis
Legal Expense Trust, set up with the Bank of Georgetown. “No
contribution is too small for this effort,” Oliverio’s letter
As this story continues on its circuitous path, we will update as warranted.