AUGUSTA — The former athletic director at the University of Maine at Augusta claims in a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court that university officials failed to follow university policy and were negligent in doing so when they fired him on the grounds of “untruthfulness and deception.”

Warren Newton, who had worked at UMA since 2001 until he was fired in May 2015, is seeking compensatory damages, back pay, front pay or reinstatement of his position and benefits and purging of all references to “deception and untruthfulness” from his university records, and punitive damages.

On Tuesday, University of Maine System General Counsel James Thelen said the university system has received service of the lawsuit but doesn’t comment either on pending litigation or employment matters.

In his complaint, Newton said he received a letter on April 6, 2015, from Dean of Students Kathleen Dexter, who has since retired, informing him he was being placed on administrative leave without pay immediately, pending an investigation about a relationship with a student. On the same day, he also received a letter from Sheri Stevens, executive director of administrative services, informing him that an investigation into whether he had violated the university’s guidelines concerning consenting relationships would be conducted by Brenda Haskell, and that he would have the opportunity to suggest witnesses or documentation.

Haskell’s investigation found that no reasonable grounds existed to believe he had violated the university’s guidelines, according to the complaint, but three days after that Newton was notified in a letter that Haskell’s report also raised serious concerns about Newton’s behavior. A due process meeting was scheduled, but Newton said he was never informed what those “serious concerns” were, either before the meeting as university policies and procedures require, or at the start of the meeting.

Court papers say Newton felt frightened and intimidated and left the meeting after about five minutes because he feared Dexter and Stevens had a secret agenda. Three days later, he was terminated on the grounds of “untruthfulness and deception.”

Newton, who is being represented by Naomi Cohen, names former interim President Glenn Cummings, Dexter, and Stevens in his suit, in both their individual and official capacities, saying they denied him due process and were negligent in doing so. He also is suing the University of Maine System.

In his suit, Newton said he was earning $88,000 a year plus benefits as director of student activities, athletic director and adjunct faculty member, but he’s now employed at United Parcel Service, earning about $19,000 a year, because he’s unable to find employment comparable to his job at the university. He blames the grounds cited for his dismissal.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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