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Footnotes Left Out, Law School Dean Says

Investigation: Disputing charges of plagiarism, attorney for Winston Frost says sloppy editing on article is to blame.

July 31, 2001|H.G. REZA and THUY-DOAN LE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A Santa Ana law school dean accused of pulling text from an encyclopedia to write an article for the school's journal is a victim of sloppy editing, his attorney said Monday.

Tom Borchard, attorney for Winston L. Frost, said the editor reading the story for Trinity Law Review omitted footnotes that would have provided proper attribution in Frost's article on the history of human rights published last year. Law review editors could not be reached for comment.

Frost, 43, has been suspended with pay from his job at Trinity Law School while his supervisors look into allegations that he lifted text from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Gregory L. Waybright, president of Trinity International University, the law school's parent university, said last week that "some portions" of the law review article "appear to be much the same as another identified article previously published by a separate author."

Although Frost's 28-page article included numerous footnotes as published--none of them naming the Britannica--Borchard said the editor deleted footnotes giving proper credit. Borchard would not say which publication was named in the footnotes that he alleged were deleted.

Borchard said Frost could not have plagiarized from the Britannica because the encyclopedia article was not published until 1998, and Frost's article originated from a speech he gave in 1996.

Frost's article, though, has numerous obvious similarities to the encyclopedia's 1986 edition.

"He is denying the allegation, and we have opened our own investigation," Borchard said. "We're trying to find out where the formal charges came from. We need to know who the accuser is. And there is a concern that there was a mistake in the editing."

University officials said they were alerted to the similarities in the articles two weeks ago in a letter from someone at the law school. They declined to give details. The article was published in the law review's Fall 2000 edition.

The Christian law school of 200 students is housed in an office building on North Grand Avenue in Santa Ana.

Many students spoke in support of Frost. Others believe the charges against Frost stemmed from a grudge.

"It's not very Christian-like for people to be spreading rumors and allegations when they have personal vendettas," said Winifera Harper of Perris. "Everybody has a problem but it should be solved privately, not splattered on the wall. This is a Christian school and that makes it worse."

Lisa Stribling, 43, of Bellflower said the dean is "well respected and very ethical."

"He shouldn't be publicly lynched before the facts," Stribling said.

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