Davenport case: Attorney wants DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams held in contempt, jailed

Varlo Davenport after a court hearing, St. George, Utah, Feb. 18, 2016 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A motion filed Thursday in Washington County Justice Court asks that Dixie State University President Richard Williams be found in contempt of court and jailed for 48 hours for refusing to obey a judge’s order to turn over documents related to Varlo Davenport’s defense.

Davenport was fired from his 15-year tenured position as a theater professor at Dixie State University in December 2014 after one of his students alleged he had assaulted her during a classroom acting exercise.

A faculty board at the college cleared Davenport of wrongdoing and recommended his reinstatement. Instead, St. George City filed a Class B misdemeanor charge of assault. A jury trial is scheduled March 24 in St. George.

The motion to find Dr. Richard Biff Williams in contempt of court alleges Williams failed to obey the court’s orders regarding a subpoena served on May 14, 2015.

“They were supposed to turn the files over to the judge to see if there was any exculpatory information. He (the judge) was going to, I guess, dig through it and they were supposed to send the emails to me and they haven’t done it,” Aaron Prisbrey said, adding Dixie State’s attorney, Utah Assistant Attorney General Michael Carter, would not return his calls. Prisbrey is Davenport’s attorney.

“So we filed a motion to find Biff Williams in contempt,” Prisbrey said. “To see if they’d toss him in the county jail for a couple of nights, see if we could get his attention.”

Williams said Friday he did not want to comment on the matter.

“To my knowledge we have been fully compliant with the court regarding this case. Seeing how this matter is currently open before the court I cannot comment further at this time,” Williams wrote in an email in response to a request for comment.

Carter also would not discuss the case.

“I have not formally received this motion I keep hearing about and because it’s an open matter before the court I would decline comment,” Carter said.

During a Feb. 18 hearing, Washington County Justice Court Judge Ronald Read ordered that any relevant information having to do with Davenport be turned over to Prisbrey, including any emails, letter and correspondence pertaining to the incident which led to Davenport’s termination.

Carter argued at the hearing that Prisbrey’s request for information was overly broad. Read said he would privately review any information Carter believes is not relevant to the case.

Read more: Fired DSU professor continues to seek documents, judge agrees to request

The material the college is withholding contains information that would clear Davenport, Prisbrey said.

St. George City Attorney Shawn Guzman said he had not seen the motion and “so is unable to comment at this time.”

St. George City Chief Prosecuting Attorney Robert Cosson could not be reached for comment.


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