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Bubblegate: Send Lawyers, Affidavits and Money
By Steven B. Krivit
Editor, New Energy Times

Sept. 3, 2008

[This article is Copyleft 2008 New Energy Times. Permission is granted to reproduce this article as long as the article, this notice and the publication information shown above are included in their entirety and no changes are made to this article.]

 

On Sept. 1, 2008, New Energy Times received a letter from Roger Bennett, counsel for Lefteri Tsoukalas, accuser of Rusi Taleyarkhan, in response to our Aug. 27, 2008, article, Purdue University Punishes Bubblegate Researcher.

Tsoukalas and Taleyarkhan are professors in the Purdue School of Nuclear Engineering. Tsoukalas was once Taleyarkhan's boss, though Tsoukalas was removed as the head of the school (according to a congressional investigation report) midway through this still-brewing intra-departmental and inter-University controversy. Originally, the controversy was about science, but now the focus is on an administrative breakdown in Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering.

Act I of the multiyear controversy was published in The New Energy Times Special Report on Bubble Fusion/Sonofusion on July 10, 2007. Act II went into full swing at the beginning of this year as the Purdue University C-22 investigation committee completed its work and issued a guilty verdict for Taleyarkhan for research misconduct.

In his letter from Sept. 1, Bennett listed three matters regarding an affidavit pertaining to the Purdue University controversy:

  1. The Mize affidavit it not referred to or attached to Taleyarkhan's complaint. In no sense is it part of the complaint as you report.
  2. The Mize affidavit has not been filed, provided in discovery, or otherwise made part of the record of the litigation between Taleyarkhan and Tsoukalas.
  3. The Mize affidavit technically is not even an affidavit for several reasons.

With regard to Matter No. 1, John Lewis, counsel for Rusi Taleyarkhan, advised New Energy Times that, in the state of Indiana, only complaints involving contracts require that documents (the contract) be attached to the complaint.

Lewis confirmed that Bennett is correct: The Darla Mize (administrative assistant to head of School of Nuclear Engineering) affidavit has not been "provided in discovery." Lewis says that the reason the affidavit has not been provided in discovery is that discovery has not occurred. The complaint against his client, Tsoukalas, was filed in Indiana Superior Court on March 7, 2008. Lewis says that, were Bennett to initiate discovery (or when he does), the affidavit would have (and will be) provided to him.

With regard to the terminology, the signed statements have been called "affidavits" since January when they were collected by Neville Bilimoria (previous counsel for Taleyarkhan) and discussed and shared with William P. Kealey (counsel for Purdue) and Peter Dunn (associate vice president for research). From Bilimoria's e-mail, both parties seem to have discussed the matter of notarization of the Mize and other affidavits to their satisfaction.

Apparently, neither Kealey nor Dunn shared the affidavits with Bennett.

An e-mail from Bilimoria on Jan. 31 indicates that he asked Dunn and Kealey to provide the affidavits to the committee that was investigating the conflict in the School of Nuclear Engineering.

Taleyarkhan wrote that, several months later, in March, he met with Dean Leah Jamieson (the chief executive officer of the College of Engineering and the person who appointed the committee members).

"She told me that she was shocked at what I told her about Mize's affidavit," Taleyarkhan wrote, "and that Purdue's attorney [Kealey] or Dunn had not revealed the affidavits to her. I then took the initiative and sent them directly to her after consulting with my attorneys."

Taleyarkhan told New Energy Times yesterday that he then provided the affidavits, along with a letter of protest, to Jamieson, David Williams (leader of the Senate's Faculty Affairs Committee), and Victor Lechtenberg, the interim vice provost.

Taleyarkhan said yesterday that, at the time, he received confirmations of receipt from Williams and Jamieson. What happened after that is a mystery.

"I have no idea if the committee that was investigating me received these key documents. It's a big black hole. Based on what happened and how unfairly they treated me, it looks like this key evidence never got to the committee," Taleyarkhan said.

He also told New Energy Times that he has evidence that Purdue's attorney may have blocked key testimony.

"We have correspondence from Kealey that [NAME REDACTED] and Mize did not wish to be contacted for statements and to have [our counsel] refrain from speaking to them. When we asked [NAME REDACTED] and Mize about this, they stated otherwise; they were actually wanting to speak with us. [NAME REDACTED] and Mize subsequently provided their affidavits. Kealey's communication was misleading; it seems like it was a trick to interfere with our lawful collection of evidence," Taleyarkhan wrote.

Yesterday, New Energy Times received another affidavit, this one is from Jere Jenkins, director of Radiation Laboratories at Purdue. The names of students have been redacted.

On Aug. 27, 2008, Kenneth Chang of The New York Times asked this writer some questions about the Mize affidavit regarding verification of the affidavit, which was released by New Energy Times.

"She's clearly a disgruntled employee," Chang wrote, "which means everything she says could well be true, but you can't take it on faith."

Taleyarkhan has provided New Energy Times with evidence that the affidavits were shared and discussed between his attorneys and Purdue. In this article, we show an image of one e-mail that provides an example of this. Mize has stated in writing that she is willing to testify under oath. Consequently, this is news that New Energy Times deems fit to print.

On the other hand, The New York Times published a document allegedly written and signed by Adam Butt, a graduate student at Purdue. It was perhaps the most damning evidence, which caused great harm to Taleyarkhan's reputation. This alleged statement also formed the basis of Taleyarkhan's admonishment by Congress and punishment by Purdue.

Here is the version obtained by New Energy Times. Note that there is no signature, no notary stamp, no statement about a willingness to testify under oath, and no statement that the author wrote it "completely willingly and without influence and duress from any other individuals."

However, something about the text is peculiar. The first three paragraphs are written in third person. The remaining text is written in first person.

Here is the version located on the New York Times Web site. It is the same as the version obtained by New Energy Times - the same unsigned document. Yet on May 11, 2007, Chang wrote in The New York Times that "Mr. Butt signed a statement that he did not participate in any of the experiments or the analysis of the data and that he had been added as an author to one of the papers a week before submission and was not aware that he was on the second paper until a week before it was presented at a conference."

New Energy Times has created several new Web pages to help readers. The first is the Bubblegate Portal, an index to all of our related online reference materials and news stories. The next two are lists of the key people and a list of affidavits and key documents.

 

 

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