Gillean trial begins; key witness testifies

Former UCA Chief of Staff Jack Gillean, 57, is on trial this week, facing six commercial burglary counts, one felony count of fraudulent insurance acts and one misdemeanor count of issuing a false financial statement.

His trial in Van Buren County Circuit Court in Clinton began Monday with former student Cameron Stark testifying that he gained access to keys from Gillean after the two became close friends in 2010. In court, Stark said he frequently went to Gillean’s apartment and drank with the former UCA employee, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Stark was the second witness called on during the trial’s first day of testimony. He described his experience passing Lewis Science Center while driving around campus during a snow day.

In his testimony, Stark said the two stopped at Lewis Science Center and Gillean opened cell biology professor Bhupinder Vorha’s office. While in the office, Stark said he found an upcoming exam on Vorha’s computer. He printed it and asked for the keys on multiple occasions following the initial incident.

Tim Dudley, Gillean’s defense attorney, told jurors that Stark knew where Gillean kept the master keys in his apartment and said Stark took the keys without Gillean’s knowledge or permission.

“[Stark] made a deal,” Dudley said in court. “He basically told the police if you don’t charge me, if you leave me alone, I’ll give you Jack Gillean… And the police bought his story.”

UCAPD Lt. Preston Grumbles found Gillean’s “grand master” key in Stark’s pocket. When asked by police where he got keys, Stark said, “Jack [Gillean] game them to me.”

Stark said he used the keys about 20 times to steal tests from UCA science and history professors’ offices. He has immunity from prosecution as a result of his cooperation in the case. Student James Santiago and former students Jared Santiago and Stephanie Paladino were also granted immunity.

Other top UCA administrators have been subpoenaed in the case, including President Tom Courtway, UCAPD Chief Larry James, Transfer Services Director Jeff Pitchford and Physical Plant Director Larry Lawrence.

Gillean resigned from his chief of staff position June 15, 2012 after Courtway questioned him about a lost “grand master” key.

His resignation was a week after UCAPD discovered that Stark broke into the financial aid office and stole four prescription pills from Andrew Linn, assistant director of scholarships.

According to the Democrat- Gazette, Dudley told potential jurors his largest concern was that Gillean would be convicted “because of his sexual orientation” instead of solely focusing on the charges.

The prosecution said in a March 7 written response to Gillean’s attorneys, “The State has no intention of making the Defendant’s sexual orientation an issue in this case. However, the State does intend on introducing evidence of a sexual relationship between the Defendant and Ryan Scott. The distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships is of no consequence. The relevance lies in the existence of an intimate relationship between the Defendant and Mr. Scott.”

Scott was subpoenaed in the case. He and Gillean lived together. Deputy Prosecutor Troy Braswell said during the March 7 jury selection process that there is evidence to suggest the two engaged in an intimate relationship. He added that Scott “saw and heard evidence which is critical to the State’s case” during this time.

Jury selection was rescheduled as a result of winter weather earlier in the week that made roads hazardous in Clinton.

After potential jurors were asked about their religious views on homosexuality, several raised their hands. According to the Democrat-Gazette, an older man discussed “God’s law” relating to homosexuality and was among those in the jury pool excused.

Seven men, five women and two alternates, a man and a woman, are on the jury. Court recessed early Monday for lunch after a waterline problem cut off water to the courthouse, according to the Democrat-Gazette.

The Echo will have a full report on Gillean’s trial in next week’s issue.


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