Some state and local elected officials are shocked that the College of Charleston has not canceled a Thursday campus talk by British psychologist Adrian Raine.
If you go:
What: British psychologist Adrian Raine will discuss the connection between violence and biology.
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Auditorium of the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building, 202 Calhoun St.
Cost: The event is free and open to the public.
Raine testified as an expert witness for the defense in the trial of a man who brutally raped and murdered Peyton Tuthill in 1999 in Colorado. Tuthill graduated from the College of Charleston in 1997.
County Council Vice Chairman Elliott Summey, a 1999 graduate of the college, said he’s furious with his alma mater for allowing Raine to appear on campus. And state Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, said he and some other legislators will look less favorably at the college if it doesn’t cancel Raine’s talk.
Tuthill’s mother and many of her friends had asked the college to cancel Raine’s visit.
But college spokesman Mike Robertson said the college stands by a statement it made earlier this month and will allow the talk to go on as planned, citing the need for academic freedom.
Tuthill’s mother, Pat Tuthill, said she’s extremely upset that Raine will be allowed to speak. College leaders told her Raine will not mention her daughter’s case, and he won’t be allowed to hold a book signing. But those measures really don’t make the situation much better, she said. “The right thing to do would have been to cancel. It never should have gotten this far.”
Raine’s research focuses on biological and social factors in criminal behavior. He testified on behalf of Donta Page, who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Tuthill’s murder. A jury found Page guilty of first-degree murder. A three-judge panel considered the death penalty, but opted instead for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
According to a Nov. 18, 2000, story in The Denver Post, Raine said that the frontal lobes of Page’s brain were misshapen, identical to the frontal lobes of 41 murderers Raine had examined. The frontal lobes control impulsive and violent behavior.
Raine’s new book, “The Anatomy of Violence,” recently was released. In the book, he discusses Page, and Tuthill’s murder.
Summey said Raine “has a right to pimp his book somewhere else. But if he’s pimping it on the campus where Peyton walked, that’s something else.”
He also said that he no longer will vote in favor of requests from the college for financial support from the county.
Philosophy professor Thomas Nadelhoffer said he didn’t know when he invited Raine to speak at the college that Raine had testified in Page’s murder trial. He invited Raine because he was the world’s leading expert on neurobiology of crime.
Lynn Cherry, Speaker of the Faculty, said the faculty supports Raine being allowed to speak. “It’s certainly appropriate to bring in a guest speaker when they are an expert, credible authority on a subject.”
Merrill said he has had conversations with school officials. He thinks some administrators considered canceling the talk but caved to faculty demands. “I thought the college would do the right thing,” he said. “It’s just wrong.”
Peyton’s family and friends continue to grieve for her, he said. “The college is making the wound even deeper. She’s one of our own.”
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.