A former University of Virginia student whose diploma was revoked eight years after he graduated because of an honor code violation has sued school officials and others, arguing that the action was arbitrary and capricious.
Maurice G. Goodreau III, of the District, contends that his constitutional rights were violated after the student Honor Committee reinvestigated him for a long-resolved criminal matter. He is seeking $1.75 million in damages and the reinstatement of his business degree, awarded in 1990 and stripped in 1998.
In the suit filed Friday in Albemarle County Circuit Court, Goodreau said the revocation led to the loss of tuition, hurt his career and forced him to return to college elsewhere. The suit names the Board of Visitors, U-Va. President John T. Casteen III and former Honor Committee members.
The suit is the latest civil case against the school over actions by the university's two all-student disciplinary boards, the Honor Committee and the Judiciary Committee. The Honor Committee enforces the 157-year-old honor code, which requires that students not lie, cheat or steal or else face expulsion.
Carol Wood, director of news services at the university, said school officials would not comment on pending litigation. Honor Committee members have declined to discuss specific cases.
Shortly after Goodreau's graduation in May 1990, allegations arose that while president of a student karate club, he used club funds for personal expenses, according to the suit.
An arrest warrant was issued in October 1990. Goodreau pleaded guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement and was ordered to pay $1,591 in restitution, court records in Charlottesville show.
In November 1990, the Honor Committee notified Goodreau that he was accused of an honor violation based on the criminal offense.
"What I thought was, since I graduated from school, they can't kick me out," Goodreau said in an interview.
Goodreau did not request an honor trial, and in March 1991, he was informed that he had been found guilty in absentia, the suit states.
Goodreau contacted the U-Va. registrar about his transcript in 1996, when he was planning to attend graduate school, according to the suit. That request triggered a renewed honor investigation, the suit says.
"Mr. Goodreau fell victim to the whim and caprice of a small group of students who had never met him, had never heard from him, and had never gathered evidence against him," Goodreau's attorney, Dane Butswinkas, of Washington, wrote in the suit. The committee, the suit argues, had no authority to adjudicate issues involving non-students.
In March 1997, the suit states, Goodreau received a letter from Casteen stating the general faculty would be asked to consider stripping Goodreau of his degree. A year later, Casteen wrote to Goodreau to say he could "present any information" he wanted considered in the matter.
Goodreau sent material but heard nothing more until May 1998, when Casteen wrote that the degree had been revoked, the suit states.