University of Kansas professor Paul Mirecki resigned as chair of the KU religious studies department this week, marking the latest development in his widely reported fall from grace.
Mirecki, the professor who said he was brutally attacked in rural Kansas Monday, has been in the national spotlight since his inflammatory e-mail comments about Christian fundamentalists were made public last week.
"In light of the recent controversy surrounding a course I had planned to teach next semester, and on recommendation of my colleagues in the department, I think it is appropriate that I step down from my appointment as chair," Mirecki wrote in a Dec. 6 letter to the university. "I hope you will accept this resignation."
The next day, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Interim Dean Barbara Romzek did just that.
"This allows the department to focus on what's important," she said in a release. "[That is] teaching, research and service — and to minimize the distractions of the last couple of weeks."
Mirecki's resignation comes as some call into question the accuracy of his police report.
According to John Altevogt, a conservative activist in Kansas, Mirecki has been unable to even identify the street on which his alleged beating occurred.
"There's also confusion about whether or not he called from the spot or whether he called from the hospital," Altevogt said. "If he can't tell them where the alleged assault took place — the closest he's come is two different streets, two rural roads — so how are they going to collect evidence? He couldn't [even] tell them where on those rural roads it was."
Altevogt also said Mirecki's description of his attackers — white, 30-40 years old, wearing jeans and driving a big pickup truck — fits "half the population of Kansas."
Also odd, Altevogt noted, is the lack of support from Mirecki's colleagues at KU, epitomized, he said, by his fellow professors' requests for him to resign as department chair.
"At a time when you'd think his colleagues would rally around the flag, they in fact have asked him to resign," he said. "If this is a 'for real' thing, you would think they would rally around him in the face of this horrendous attack and do something."
Lt. Kari Wempe of the Douglas County (Kan.) Sheriff's Office would not comment on Altevogt's speculation and added there has been nothing new to report since Mirecki first spoke of his attack.
"That is a public opinion," Wempe said, adding she has not been told of any inconsistencies in the professor's report. "That's not a law-enforcement opinion."
Mirecki did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment.