The Baylor plot thickens

baylor freedom.jpgLast February GetReligion mentioned the story of Matthew Bass, who was expelled from Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary who was expelled after administrators heard that he was gay and asked him about it.

Now Baylor has filed a lawsuit that accuses Bass of sending lewd e-mail to — and about — university employees.

Mike Anderson of the Waco Tribune-Herald describes the lawsuit’s claims:

The amended petition says many of the e-mails were sent under the names of Baylor employees or their family members. One e-mail cited in the petition was addressed as if it came from the child of an unidentified Baylor employee. In the e-mail the child implores the parent to stop committing sexual abuse. The e-mail was sent to the employee and many other Baylor staff members, the suit alleges.

The petition also says one group of e-mails incorrectly reported that a faculty member who had recently had a stroke had died. A message with the obituary of an administrator was sent to news organizations, the petition says. Another e-mail, sent in the name of a George W. Truett Theological Seminary administrator, reported to one of Baylor’s accrediting agencies that the seminary was involved in a cheating scandal involving faculty and students, the petition says.

The suit “appears to lack proof that the emails came from Bass,” says the Newscenter Staff, without elaboration.

Anderson’s story offers richer detail:

The petition says the e-mails were traced to the modem of an Internet service subscriber with Bass’s same home address, identified as his roommate. The suit continues that Bass using his own name repeatedly accessed various computer services hosted on Baylor computers last fall, with the calls originating from the modem at Bass’s residence.

“In order to access these services, Bass was required to ‘log in’ using a secure password known only to him, thereby indicating that he had personal access to, and used, a computer associated with the broadband modem in question,” the petition states.

Two other details appear in Anderson’s story but not at 365gay: “Other e-mails cited in the petition refer to sexual activities by Jesus Christ. The suit also alleges some of the e-mails contained racial epithets.”

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  • Lex

    If Baylor has filed suit, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts there was a criminal investigation that turned up insufficient grounds for an indictment, because this kind of cracking’s a felony.

  • mcgregor

    The civil and criminal are independant of each other. The civil was primarily to prevent him from sending any more e-mails. I am no Baylor fan, but to think of the contents of the e-mails and consider that this person is seeking a calling in the ministry is beyond comprehinsion. The spitefulness, vindictiveness, and blasphemy contained in those e-mails is anti-thetical to the gospel he claims to believe. What happened to praying for those that persecute you? But the good news is that he is enrolled in another seminary. What lucky church will have this person as a minister?

  • steve h

    I never thought I’d see the day!

    A story involving a seminary, a disgruntled former employee, homosexual activism, and computer-systems forensics.

    As a computer buff, I can tell that this was not an experienced hacker spreading malicious messages. He had apparently tinkered with the “From:” header in the email, but the emails apparently had initiation-address stamps from the TCP/IP address known by the ISP to have been given to a particular modem at that time.

    Meaner hacker/cracker tricks exist. Many of those tricks are used by virus writers and spammers. The most obvious one I can think of is an old spammer-trick of using a random ISP’s mail-server as the initiation point for the email. There are enough poorly-configured mail-servers on the World Wide Web to make this easy for those who are knowledgeable. Another level of sophistication would involve rotating this tactic through several dozen such servers. This would make it harder for the investigators to track everything back to a single modem. These tactics would cause the electronic trail to stretch across several sets of logs, only distantly related, on many different machines.

    On the legal side, I think Baylor has to bring this to the attention of a local police agency to set a criminal case in motion. Have they?

    If the University did not officially cancel Bass’s computer privileges when he was expelled, then he had the right to log in and use the system. However, when he was admitted, he probably had to sign a “Computer-use” form. Those forms usually prohibit any form of malicious behavior, including impersonating others in any way, on the University computer system.

    Will he have to answer to the law for these deeds? Probably, but I wonder. It depends on how much the District Attorney (or Attorney General) in question wants to take the case on. They could make it a straightforward tech-crime case, or fall into the trap of letting themselves be called “overzealous homophobes.”

  • Kitt

    Geez….and just today I took a long drive in the mountains today to mull over this chaplain and graduate school stuff, worrying that I’m too old and not ‘christian’ enuf at times.

    If I’m tinkering with the headers and trying to have emails appear as if they’re from someone other than me…I not only far too much time on my hands, but a dreadfully serious problem with resentment and some other powerful emotions.