Case closed: D'Souza sentenced, King's moves forward
New York, NEW YORK—After nine months in court, Judge Richard Berman sentenced former President of The King’s College, Dinesh D’Souza, to five years of probation and fined him $30,000 last Tuesday, putting the campaign finance scandal to rest. According to WORLD Magazine, D’Souza will spend the first eight months of his sentence in a confinement center in his home city of San Diego. There he will attend weekly counseling sessions and teach immigrants English. His overall punishment is well below the federal guidelines of 10-16 months in prison.
The New York Times reported that after the sentencing D’Souza was relieved:
“I’m just happy I can pay my debt to society and get on with my work,” D’Souza said.
D’Souza pleaded guilty in May for organizing $20,000 of fraudulent donations for the campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Wendy Long, WORLD reported.
Not only was D’Souza’s case closed this past week, but Friday his former Assistant, Tyler Vawser, left his position as Director of Marketing and Personal Relations at King’s to start his own company.
Vawser declined to comment on whether there was a connection between him leaving the college and the D’Souza scandal. However, according to an email from King’s President, Dr. Gregory Allen Thornbury, “Many weeks ago Tyler initiated this transition to what is clearly a significant and positive new development in his career.”
WORLD reported that during the hearing last Tuesday the judge had some serious words for Vawser, who, when working with D’Souza, gave $10,000 in straw donations to Long’s campaign in he and his wife’s names. Vawser was allowed immunity from the prosecution by agreeing to testify as a witness against D’Souza.
“How is that friendship to implicate oneself and one’s spouse in a possible election crime?” Judge Berman said. Berman also condemned Vawser for not taking responsibility for his fault in the matter.
But in spite of his involvement in the D’Souza scandal, it’s clear that Vawser will be missed at King’s.
“On behalf of the administration, I want to say that we are thankful for his faithful service to the college,” said Thornbury. “On a personal level, I am sad to see him go.”
The current Executive Director for Educational Ventures at King’s, Duanne Moeller said hiring Vawser was “one of the best decisions [he] ever made.” He called Vawser “hardworking” and said that he “has done an excellent job marketing the college.”
Closure surrounding D’Souza and King’s also surfaced in a recent column by Marvin Olasky. Olasky, who’s currently the Editor in Chief of WORLD, previously served as Provost at King’s. In his article entitled “Course Reversal,” he described the experience surrounding his decision to leave King’s when the board hired D’Souza.
Olasky discussed the disagreement saying, “The King’s board, to my naive surprise, didn’t focus on what D’Souza believed: His task was to lasso a desperately needed big donor or donors.”
After much disagreement and an internal debate of whether to make a scene or leave quietly, Olasky made the latter choice telling professors as he left, “Keep your chins up in the classroom and your heads down in relation to the new administration. Wait and see what God will do.”
Although Olasky said that he “still [misses] King’s” he made it clear that he sees Thornbury as God’s provision for the college:
“God provided a replacement committed to the Protestant evangelical tradition: Greg Thornbury, an ordained minister who had been dean of the School of Theology and Missions at a solidly evangelical school, Union University,” Olasky said.
King’s students are also thankful for Thornbury.
“Being president was one of the several hats that Mr. D’Souza had to wear, so this affected his ability to interact with students and fully engage at King’s,” Laurel Recsetar (’15) said. “I think the student body is much more enthusiastic and respective to [President Thornbury’s] leadership because he personally engages with students face-to-face.”
Kendall Seely (’15), who spent her first year-and-a-half at King’s under D’Souza’s presidency, said, “There was a huge emphasis on politics and not as much on Christianity and the fact that we were a Christian school.”
Seely isn’t sure whether that was because of D’Souza but said that his exit “created this conversation with the student body about what kind of school we wanted to be” and “a desire for revival” among the students and faculty.
Reflecting on her King’s experience since sophomore year, Seely said, “It feels like a different school.”