TAMPA, Fla. A former Florida college professor who was fired after he suggested the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax has sued the school for violation of his right to free speech, his attorney said on Tuesday.
James Tracy was dismissed in January by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he had taught since 2002. His website, MemoryHoleBlog.com, gained notice in 2013 after he claimed the December 2012 massacre by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged. The attack killed 26 people, including 20 children.
The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court on Monday, claims that the firing violated his rights, including free speech protections under the U.S. Constitution. Tracy seeks to be reinstated and compensated for economic and other damages, according to a copy of the lawsuit provided by his attorney.
“Tenure, free speech, due process and academic freedom are under attack,” his attorney Louis Leo IV said in a news release.
University spokesman Joshua Glanzer declined in an email to comment, saying the case had not been served.
University officials had said Tracy was terminated for failing to submit forms explaining his outside activities for conflict of interest review.
Tracy also said the 2015 San Bernardino attack, in which a militant Muslim couple killed 14 people, was a hoax and raised conspiracy theories about other mass killings nationally.
Tracy, whose work included a course entitled “Culture of Conspiracy,” sent a letter in December to the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner demanding proof they were his parents.
Tracy’s lawsuit also names university officials and faculty union representatives.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Richard Chang)