The attorney for Rod Raymond has released an “Open Letter to UMD Community” comparing Raymond to the victims of the 1920 lynching of three black men in Duluth, asking people to stop assigning blame before things get out of control. In 2009 Raymond, currently UMD’s Fitness and Wellness coordinator, was investigated for sexual harassment after complaints from two students were brought forward. The investigation, handled through the university, was settled and Raymond was kept on staff in spite of recommendations from the investigator that he be fired. It has been confirmed that he is again being investigated, but the details will not be released until the university reaches a verdict.
Raymond’s attorney Lindsay Jones writes that it is important for a community to remain fair and objective, saying that Raymond’s treatment is a “miscarriage of justice.” He recalls the historical hanging of three black men as an example. In 1920, in what is now known as the 1920 Duluth lynching, three African-American men were accused of raping a teenage girl. Before a trial could be appointed, rumors of this rape got out of hand, and the three men were publicly hung from a lamppost on First Street in Duluth.
“I share this story with the UMD community to ask you to pause in your judgment, to cease in the mob calls to lynch Mr. Raymond,” Jones wrote. He also wants people “to remember the importance of allowing for due process, and to be open minded and patient, until both sides of the full story have an opportunity to be heard, so that the conflicting accounts can be fairly weighed and measured.”
Jones also goes on to attest for Raymond’s two decades of service to UMD, saying he helped create one of the best physical fitness and well-being programs in the country.
“Mr. Raymond is a graduate of UMD whose own personal and professional achievements demonstrate the pursuit of excellence,” Jones wrote in the statement. “This was Rodney Raymond before his good name and reputation was dragged through the mud.”
According to his personal website, Jones received his B.A. from UMD in 1988 and later studied law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He also worked at the St. Louis County Attorney’s office in Duluth. He is currently associate director for the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and adjunct professor of law at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta where he is also an attorney for Cook, Hall & Lampros, LLP law firm. Jones has made a career of defending individuals in civil rights, personal injury, consumer, employment, and wrongful death cases.
BY ANNE KUNKEL CHRISTIANSON firstname.lastname@example.org