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Who Is Tarrant?

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Saturday, April 18, 1970 Page 10

Who Is Tarrant?

U-M Official Admits Masquerading As College Graduate; Goes To Jail

By William B. Treml

(News Police Reporter)

A routine Circuit Court hearing on a contempt issue erupted into a volcano of perjury admissions yesterday with a University official admitting he lied under oath, was not a college graduate and has lived under several names.

The recanted sworn testimony by Shawn Tarrant, 28-year-old assistant director for the University Housing Office, left U-M officials shaken. President Robben Fleming promised an investigation.

Tarrant spent four hours after the hearing yesterday in the Washtenaw County Jail on an Ingham County bench warrant and was lodged the rest of the night in a lockup cell in East Lansing police headquarters. He was to be arraigned today in East Lansing on the warrant which stems from a traffic violation.

When that proceeding is over, and if Tarrant is released on bond, he will be turned over to Michigan State Police at East Lansing headquarters. State Police in Munising in the Upper Peninsula have warrants for Tarrant charging him with speeding and no operator’s license, East Lansing police said.

Meanwhile, at the request of local authorities, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Washington, D.C. were running a check on Tarrant’s fingerprints. His prints were taken at the County Jail last night. He was involved in a scuffle with Ann Arbor police Wednesday night when officers said he objected to having his fingerprints taken.

Tarrant was testifying yesterday before Circuit Court Judge Ross W. Campbell on a contempt of court matter stemming from a District Court examination which began last Wednesday. In that proceeding, three University black students were charged with felonious assault in connection with the beating April 1 of two white students. When Tarrant refused from the witness stand to give Assistant Prosecutor Thomas F. Shea the name of a fourth U-M student who police say was involved in the assault, District Court Judge S. J. Elden cited Tarrant for contempt of court. Tarrant said he based his refusal to provide the name on a state law which protects “confidential” information given a school counselor.

The question was moved to Circuit Court when Richard W. Ryan, retained by the University as legal counsel, filed a motion for “superintending control” of the contempt citation by the higher court. The issue of Tarrant’s right to refuse information and Judge Elden’s contempt finding was scheduled to be argued before Judge Campbell in yesterday’s hearing. Instead the three-hour session ended in turmoil with Prosecutor Shea listing “a minimum of ten” instances in which he says he can prove Tarrant committed perjury.

Tarrant himself in the final minutes of the session admitted from the witness stand, that he had not been “truthful” in sworn statements about his education, his parents’ names and his background.

His position as an assistant director under U-M Housing Director John C. Feldkamp reportedly requires a degree Under cross-examination by Prosecutor Shea, Tarrant said he had a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a master’s degree from Hunter College in New York City. But later, Tarrant admitted he had never attended Hunter as a student but had only been employed there. He said he had attended Michigan State.

Tarrant further testified as the hearing ended that Feldkamp knew he did not have the educational qualifications for the job he was given a month ago, but was hired anyway.

(Feldkamp said today that Tarrant came to him after two weeks of employment and voluntarily told him that some of his records were falsified. Feldkamp said that since the exchange was in confidence he told Tarrant to bring in more information and he would investigate.

(The director explained that several applicants for the position did not have degrees. He said there were no set degree requirements for the position. What was important, Feldkamp said, was sensitivity to interracial situations.

(Feldkamp said that he feels even though Tarrant may not have a degree, he is no less qualified for the job. He said that in student dealings in the past Tarrant has handled himself very well.)

Feldkamp, a former Ann Arbor city councilman who holds a law degree, testified at the start of the hearing that he hired Tarrant, whose duties included counseling of students and arbitration of disputes which might have racial overtones.

On the witness stand, Tarrant invoked the Fifth Amendment twice, stating that his answers to Shea’s questions might tend to incriminate him. To other questions by the prosecutor, the U-M official protested to Ryan and to Judge Campbell, calling many of them “irrelevant.” But Shea persisted in a hammering cross-examination, three times informing Judge Campbell that his questions were aimed at impeaching the witness. Most of Ryan’s objections to questions about Tarrant’s background were overruled and the judge ordered Tarrant to give answers.

The Housing Office official admitted under cross-examination that he had given false answers in a marriage license application obtained at the Washtenaw County clerk’s office last September. He said he had been arrested once for assault and battery but the matter had been dismissed and said he had been “detained” on a traffic warrant in Detroit last January.

Tarrant testified he had graduated from junior high school and high school in Beaumont Tex. But when Prosecutor Shea asked him: “Would you be surprised if I told you that the officials at those schools never heard of you— that they have no record of you ever attending there?” Tarrant answered “No.”

The U-M official testified he listed different first names for his father and mother in various applications including the employment application he filled out for his present University job.

He said he had visited Tennessee A & I State University in Nashville, Tenn., once on a “football weekend” and was never a student there. Prosecutor Shea said records will prove Tarrant was a student there for almost a year.

The determined probe into Tarrant’s background almost completely overshadowed the original issue in the hearing — whether or not a U-M official has the legal right to refuse to provide information on students.

On Wednesday, after Tarrant’s contempt citation in District Court, Director Feldkamp had said his agency wanted a trial on the state law protecting school counselors.

“My feeling is that the University should fight this as far as we can,” Feldkamp said.

After Shea had developed the information that Tarrant does not possess the education required by his job, although his employment application reflects otherwise, Judge Campbell pointed out an issue at hand.

“The question is: Can an educational institution appoint anyone it chooses and say he is entitled under the law to receive confidential communication and have these protected?”

As the hearing ended, Prosecutor Shea moved that Tarrant be held in contempt of court on grounds of proven perjury. But Judge Campbell declined to cite Tarrant immediately. Instead he adjourned the hearing until 10 a.m. Monday when additional testimony will be taken.

Shea said he plans to again move for a contempt citation against Tarrant. The prosecutor also indicated a separate charge of criminal perjury against the U-M assistant director may be filed early next week.