Federal Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby of the Western District Court in Alexandria issued an historic and stinging recommendation against Louisiana College’s motion to dismiss a blockbuster lawsuit that asserts the small, Baptist college engaged in racial discrimination when it refused to hire Joshua Bonadona as an assistant football coach because of his Jewish heritage.
The 12-page recommendation was published late on Friday, and it almost certainly signifies a major defeat for the school in a case that gained international attention after I had first reported it on The Bayou Brief on Feb. 22, 2018.
“This is the first case to ever provide racial protection for Jews under Title VII,” Bonadona’s lawyer, James Bullman, explained to me, “This is huge.”
It is worth reading the entire recommendation. Judge Hornsby’s arguments are essentially bulletproof and elegantly reasoned.
He eviscerated them.
Bonadona was the top-ranked applicant for the job and a 2013 Louisiana College graduate.
“He had been told by head football coach Justin Charles that “despite (his) recommendation to (President) Dr. (Rick) Brewer, Louisiana College (LC) had decided not to hire (Bonadona) because of his ‘Jewish descent,’” the court explained.
Actually, both Bonadona and Charles claimed that Brewer had also used the term “Jewish blood,” and the definitional distinction between “descent” and “blood” was considered by the court and then quickly tossed aside as irrelevant.
“While (he) was playing football for LC, his family, chiefly his mother, became active supporters of the team. It was ‘a widely known fact’ that (his) mother, Miriam, was Jewish and that (he) was of Jewish heritage,” Magistrate Judge Hornsby wrote in his recommendation. “(Bonadona), however, had converted to Christianity, often led the team’s Christian devotional, and made it known to the team and coach that he had converted to Christianity.”
A day after my report on The Bayou Brief, LC President Rick Brewer issued a pathetic e-mail statement denying that he had ever made any anti-Semitic remarks.
I decided to share Brewer’s statement in full on The Bayou Brief, which implied that he had been the victim and not the offender.
“Based upon lawsuit allegations without truth, I have been vilified and determined guilty by certain persons from across the nation. I am not nearly as upset as I am hurt” Brewer wrote, melodramatically. “I feel wounded by such reactions because I love and worship Jesus Christ, whose shed blood is the reason I have a personal relationship with the eternal God.”
Brewer’s office subsequently and falsely claimed that The Bayou Brief had published a “press release” on the school’s behalf, an assertion that the college appears to have removed from its website.
During the past twelve years, I have written and published approximately 180 different essays, reports, and opinion columns on Louisiana College, the vast and overwhelming majority of which expressed my profound disappointment in the increasingly intolerant, fascistic, and utterly incompetent leadership.
As a native of neighboring Alexandria and like thousands of other locals, I had earnestly hoped that LC could potentially emerge as the one of the state’s most respected institutions of higher learning. Central Louisiana- Pineville actually- was the original location of what is now the state’s flagship public school; today, the school is known simply as LSU.
In the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the Haynesville Shale, LC became led and dominated by its former President Joe Aguillard, and because I worked in the Alexandria Mayor’s Office, I sometimes found mysef in the same room.
Brother Joe, as he was known, I quickly realized, was dangerously naive, an almost caricature, a slippery salesman who had gotten through life by promoting himself as a conduit to God.
He promised the city of Alexandria a law school, a film school, and a medical school, and then he drove up to Shreveport and promised our colleagues there the same thing.
Year after year, LC was on the verge of losing its accreditation.
Of course, it didn’t help that his leadership was best-known for erratic and utterly bizarre stunts like these:
Aguillard’s incompetence and sanctimony resulted in the moral and, nearly, the academic bankruptcy of the college. (For context, I outlined much of this here).
The overwhelming majority of the state likely does not know that Louisiana College exists, and even if they do, the chances are they don’t have a clue where the college actually is.
Although I now live and work in New Orleans, I will always consider Alexandria, Louisiana to be my hometown, and I hope that explains why I consider the decline of Louisiana College, directly across the Red River in Pineville, to be such a tragedy and an important cautionary tale. It’s why I have written about the plight of a once-proud institution nearly two hundred times.
It is also why I instinctively write about Louisiana College in the first-person, because, although I did not earn my education there, this story is still personal to me: Many of my closest and most accomplished friends and family members were once proud of their degrees there, but they have watched, helplessly, as their alma mater was captured in a mutiny by intolerant, unethical, and incompetent zealots.
This is not to say Louisiana College was ever a great school or that these problems are new and unique. Consider this:
Finally, my criticism is about their administrative incompetence. It’s not about authentically-held religious beliefs.
I earned a bachelors degree in Religious Studies, which taught me, among other things, two important lessons.
Charlatan is just a synonym for sociopath, and any “religion” that extols bigotry or intolerance is nothing more than a hate group engaging in criminal tax fraud.