Restraining order in Chico State threat case ‘warranted, necessary and justified,’ judge rules

Suspended Chico State Biology Professor David Stachura “made a credible threat of violence” against two colleagues who cooperated in an investigation that found he had a sexual affair with a student, a judge found in a tentative ruling released Friday that orders him to stay off campus for three years.

Protection of “the entire Chico State community is warranted given the nature of the threats and the events that have transpired,” Judge Virginia Gingery wrote in a 13-page decision that when made final will grant the university a workplace violence restraining order against Stachura, who witnesses said threatened a mass shooting on campus.

David Stachura 

In addition to professors Emily Fleming and Kristen Gorman, Gingery also extended protection to biology lecturer Betsey Tamietti, graduate student Jackelin Villalobos, and members of Fleming and Tamietti’s families. The judge also banned Stachura from owning firearms for three years.

Stachura’s arguments against the order were “unavailing,” Gingery wrote, including his claims that Chico State sought the order based only in reaction to news stories about the threats.

The restraining order is “warranted, necessary and justified based on (Stachura’s)” conduct the judge wrote.

Orders first identified as tentative such as the one Gingery released Friday are all but certain to be made final under California court rules. The Butte County Superior Court’s website did not list a hearing date Friday where that would happen.

Stachura’s lawyer, Kasra Parsad, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Chico State officials.

Parsad told the judge during a hearing in July that if the restraining order were granted it would likely destroy Stachura’s academic career. He is an expert in fish biology, specializing in zebra fish and stem-cell research.

The ruling comes following a bifurcated hearing that began in April as part of the fallout of revelations made public last year that Stachura had a prohibited sexual affair with a student in 2020 and allegedly threatened to kill the professors who cooperated in a university investigation of the matter.

EdSource reported on Dec. 8  that the investigation found that Stachura and the student had sex in his office that could be heard through the walls. Stachura agreed to a settlement of the matter that included a suspension without pay for a third of the 2021 spring semester. He has repeatedly denied the 2020 affair but has admitted he is currently romantically involved with the now-former student.

The revelations roiled the 13,000-student campus, causing several mass meetings and calls for Stachura’s removal. Provost Debra Larson, who signed off on the settlement in the sex case, resigned within days. The school also revoked an “outstanding professor” award it gave Stachura for the 2020-21 academic year.

But it was the gun threats — at a time when the country is plagued with mass shootings in schools and elsewhere — that caused both students and faculty to express deep fears.

As the sex investigation unfolded in 2020, Stachura allegedly told his estranged wife, Miranda King, that he’d bought weapons and ammunition — including hollow-point bullets, with the intention of killing Fleming and Gorman.

King revealed the alleged threats in an application for a domestic violence restraining order in the midst of a deeply contentious divorce. King’s lawyer alerted Fleming and Gorman.

A biology lecturer, Betsey Tamietti, revealed that Stachura allegedly spoke to her about committing gun violence in the biology department. At a Dec. 12 campuswide meeting, Tamietti quoted Stachura as telling her, “If I wanted you guys dead, you’d be dead. I am a doer. If I do go on a shooting spree, maybe I’ll pass your office. I am not sure.”

Stachura, in both the divorce case and the current case, has claimed he told King that he had a nightmare about killing his colleagues and had no intention of acting violently. He has repeatedly said Tamietti is lying because he ended a friendship with her when she didn’t support him after King revealed the alleged threats.


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