The former head of Purdue's department of nutrition sciences filed a lawsuit against the board of trustees and others for breaching an agreement signed earlier this year by discussing destroying "approximately 30 freezers" worth of academic research, according to court documents filed earlier this month.
Professor emeritus Connie Weaver led the much-publicized Camp DASH program, which saw claims of aggravated assault, sexual harassment and campers sent to the hospital — and then home two weeks early in July 2017.
After an investigation, Purdue announced it would throw out data collected on the campers, who were being tested for nutritional purposes, and review other protocols for studies Weaver led.
Now, Weaver claims in the lawsuit that despite Purdue signing a confidential agreement with her on Feb. 15, other faculty members have attempted to discard years' worth of her research and replaced Weaver's contact person for her samples without notifying her.
A memo from Jeannie DiClementi, associate chair for protocol monitoring of Purdue's Institutional Review Board and one of the suit's defendants, shows that after another faculty member requested access to Weaver's samples, that access was denied and an investigation into the security of Weaver's samples was instigated.
"The storage of sensitive and identifying documents, data and samples was found to be grossly unorganized and in disarray, creating risk to human subjects and investigators alike," the memo reads, "and more importantly, in clear violation of Federal and Institutional regulations.
"I have therefore further determined that
- Due to evidence of a clear violation of confidentiality of any subjects related to that protocol, any access to samples or data from any of Weaver's studies by anyone is prohibited.
- Because of the gross violations of subject confidentiality, data storage, and adherence to approved protocols, all samples and data related to studies with Prof Weaver as Principal or Co-Investigator must be discarded/destroyed. This is for protection of any human subjects involved with these studies."
The lawsuit asks for an injunction against destroying decades' worth of Weaver's data.
Purdue has responded to the lawsuit with a statement defending its actions, saying the University has "been working to prepare her former workspace for use by other researchers," according to a statement from Purdue spokesman Tim Doty.
"Dr. Weaver’s lawsuit seeks to intimidate her faculty colleagues for addressing the unsafe conditions and improper record-keeping that she left behind," the statement reads. "The lawsuit is meritless and will be vigorously defended."