A Purdue University musical accompanist abruptly quit Monday after a national pro-life student group accused him of posting comments that suggested raping pro-life women.
“Yeah, I just quit,” Jamie Newman wrote in an email to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “Tell the world.”
The outcry over Newman began when he allegedly called activists organizing a Black History Month anti-abortion demonstration “vile, racist idiots, who richly deserve all the opprobrium that will be heaped on you as a result of this unbelievably thoughtless, stupid escapade” on Facebook.
The Purdue Students for Life Group used slogans like “Hands up; don’t abort” and “Womb = most dangerous place for black kids” in its messaging. It subsequently apologized for the campaign.
“And that you should have pulled this stunt at the beginning of Black History Month suggests you are either epically clueless or profoundly malicious,” he added. “So, which is [it]—embarrassingly dumb or simply evil?”
On its blog, the group wrote that it had “been monitoring Jamie Newman’s post to ensure the safety of our students at Purdue.”
Pro-life activists had called for Newman to be fired and held accountable for his online postings, while Newman accused activists of posting false and defamatory statements about him—namely, that he advocated the rape of pro-life Purdue students.
The university had previously said Newman’s comments were “repugnant and inconsistent with Purdue values” but that it had no plans to fire him. A university spokeswoman confirmed to The Daily Beast on Monday that it had accepted Newman’s resignation. Julie Rosa said Newman had been a part-time employee since 2007 but never held a teaching role.
While university officials refused to fire him, they requested he apologize for the comments. Newman refused, maintaining that if anyone should be getting an apology, it was him.
Anti-abortion activists argued that his comments constituted real and actual threats against women.
“Oh, I’m sorry. So, let me make my intentions quite explicit: I did in fact offer to rape Tom’s wife/daughter/great grandmother,” a commenter using the handle jamiegnewman posted on the website Live Action News. “Free of charge, even. I’m generous that way.”
The commenter added the numbers for local police and federal law enforcement, encouraging others to call and report him. Screenshots posted by Students for Life only show the user’s comment and one responding it—not the full context of the online exchange.
Law enforcement chose not to pursue charges against Newman. A university spokesman said police “did not find sufficient evidence to take action.”
“Purdue must terminate their relationship with Mr. Newman now,” Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins said. “Purdue cannot let a staff member publicly call for the rape of their students no matter how unpopular their speech.”
In a Facebook post addressing students who planned to protest him, Newman directly took on the latter half of Hawkins’s statement and accused the pro-life group of spreading false and defamatory information about him.
“Your parent organization, Students for Life, fabricated an allegation that I’d threatened to rape pro-life Purdue students for purposes of impregnating them, and that my wife had agreed to assist me by holding my victims down,” Newman wrote, adding that SFL was unable to provide sources for its claims to Purdue University.
“Because I criticized PSFL, SFL fabricated and disseminated the allegation that my wife and I had conspired to rape Purdue students,” he wrote. “I'd like you to think about that as you prepare for your demonstration. I’d like you to think about what sort of a person, or organization, would do such a thing.”
Newman said SFL had deleted its original story about him on its blog and replaced it—“in essence, an admission that the story was false.” (The SFL blog says the piece has been “updated.”)
Attempts to contact Newman and a rally organizer were unsuccessful. A Students for Life spokeswoman told the Journal & Courier that their allegations about Newman advocating for sexually assaulting students came from linking his Disqus comments with ones about an on-campus protest.
The Disqus account SFL says belongs to Newman has been an active commenter on Internet threads, frequently advocating for liberal causes. He defended Planned Parenthood against untrue allegations that it was in the business of selling aborted fetuses for profit.
“Huh? Abby Johnson hasn’t worked for PP in years. So, she’s suddenly remembered that during her time at PP she was trafficking illegally in baby parts?” he wrote. “Well, isn’t that incredibly convenient.”
(The makers of the highly edited videos have since been charged with purchasing organs.)
In another post, the jamiegnewman account suggested that any evidence of God’s existence, however slim, suggests “s/he is a bizarre, demented masochist with an odd enthusiasm for insects, fungi, bacteria, and the killing of fetuses (and humans that have made it out of the womb) on a scale that dwarfs all known genocides put together.”
Steve Schultz, an attorney for the university, had previously lambasted Newman for the “disruption we’ve endured as a community,” and demanded an apology.
“If anything, you owe me an apology—indeed, you should probably be begging my forgiveness—for facilitating the dissemination of fabricated and defamatory statements about me, and for failing to vehemently denounce the effort made of Students for Life to destroy my life and career,” Newman responded.
A Facebook page for a Monday rally against Newman said the event would still go on despite Newman’s resignation.
More than 1,100 people were invited. The Facebook page indicates that only 27 attended.