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Bahman Bakhtiari, the former director of the University of Utah's Middle East Center, filed suit Friday in 3rd District Court against Peter Sluglett, the center's senior-most faculty member.
Bakhtiari filed the suit a little more than two months after the university fired him over what the school called a "pattern of plagiarism."
Bakhtiari's complaint alleges Sluglett played a role in undermining his credibility while at the university, leading to a perception of plagiarism in his work and eroding his reputation among faculty and students. He claims in the suit that Sluglett took actions "with the improper purpose of destroying [Bakhtiari's] career."
In his suit, the former director accused another University of Utah professor of plagiarism, alleging that Sluglett attacked Bakhtiari's reputation as part of an effort to protect the other professor as well as remove Bakhtiari as the center's director.
"Sluglett was prepared to achieve that end [of removing Bakhtiari from the director position] through any means, no matter how ruthless or destructive," the suit says.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
When reached for comment Saturday night, Sluglett called the lawsuit "absolutely absurd."
"It's almost comical," he said. "I mean, what part could I have possibly played in his downfall. I mean, I couldn't. He's the sole author of it himself."
Sluglett said he did not discover the plagiarism it was discovered by a university committee. Bakhtiari, he added, is "the author of his own downfall."
"After all, I didn't write these things," he said. "He wrote them. I am no more responsible for his plagiarism than I am for starting the first world war."
According to a faculty panel known as the Consolidated Hearing Committee, Bakhtiari was linked to nine instances of plagiarism: five book chapters, his doctoral dissertation and three opinion commentaries.
Bakhtiari has defended his work, arguing that he has produced 3,500 pages of scholarly material with 14,000 footnotes over the course of his career and the U.'s Consolidated Hearing Committee found problems with fewer than 10 pages.