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MUSC Cheating Scandal: Update

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Breaking a year-long silence on the issue, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier has addressed a lawsuit related to its coverage of an alleged cheating scandal at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Remember that drama?

According to attorneys for the paper, a defamation lawsuit filed last October by Kayla Bingham and Kellie Bingham – twin daughters of former S.C. majority leader Kenny Bingham – should be dismissed.

From its report … 

Jay Bender, a lawyer for The Post and Courier, filed a motion Monday seeking a favorable ruling for the newspaper based on hundreds of pages of records obtained from MUSC through the discovery process. The documents show the newspaper truthfully reported that the school’s Honor Council found Kayla and Kellie Bingham guilty of cheating – a decision that was later overturned by a dean, sparking tension at the medical school, the motion stated.

Last September, Post and Courier reporter Tony Bartelme alleged that “two students with ties to high-ranking public officials” had been caught cheating at MUSC.

The twins are also the granddaughters of MUSC board member William H. Bingham, Sr.

“The Honor Council recommended that the students be expelled, but a dean overruled its decision,” Bartelme added, declining to name the students.

That report was disputed by Ron Aiken, editor of the Columbia, S.C. based blog Quorom Columbia.

“They recommended they fail the exam,” Aiken’s source said of the Honor Council’s action. “There was nothing at all said about expulsion or cheating on multiple exams, and whoever told (the Post & Courier) that was either mistaken or lying.”

According to Aiken’s report, the Binghams were “targeted” due to “internal politics” at the school.

Not so, according to the paper …

“School communications, filed Monday in connection with the lawsuit, confirmed that the Honor Council had found evidence of cheating by the Binghams, citing an independent analysis of the test results and alleged note-sharing during a second-year exam,” noted Post and Courier reporter Andrew Knapp.

Will the paper win its case?  We’ll have to see …

We’ve never been especially exercised over the identity of the alleged MUSC cheaters.  Instead, we’ve focused our coverage on the behavior of MUSC in responding to this scandal (including a demand that the Post and Courier pay $275,000 for the school to process a simple open records request).

In related news, Kenny Bingham is suing this website for defamation.  That case that turned into a major First Amendment issue after S.C. circuit court judge Keith Kelly – who was often criticized by this website for his fiscally liberal proclivities as a former colleague of Bingham’s in the S.C. General Assembly – tried to force our founding editor, Will Folks, to reveal confidential sources in connection with the case.

Under threat of jail time, Folks refused to do so.

Last month, S.C. circuit court judge William Keesley issued his long-awaited ruling on that front last month – declining to hold Folks in contempt or sanction him for declining to reveal his sources.

Bingham’s attorney, Johnny Parker, filed a motion last week challenging Keesley’s ruling.

Obviously we’ll keep an eye on both cases as they make their way through the legal system …

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