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The Blue & Gray Press | April 23, 2017

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Search warrant from Fredericksburg Circuit Court reveals alleged poisoning to UMW staff member

Search warrant from Fredericksburg Circuit Court reveals alleged poisoning to UMW staff member

By REBECCA MELSON & MALLORIE HARNISH

In the initial post of this article, Tim Brown’s title was incorrectly stated as the head coach of UMW’s men’s rugby team. His official position is coordinator of team sports.

The City of Fredericksburg Police Department is currently investigating accusations that a University of Mary Washington student poisoned Tim Brown, coordinator of team sports and manager of UMW’s Mother’s Rugby team, while dining at a local restaurant.

According to a search warrant filed with the Fredericksburg Circuit Court, the incident occurred last December, when Brown claimed to have become violently ill after three occasions of dining in specific restaurants within the Fredericksburg area, including Noodles and Company.

A student’s social media message said that the alleged poisoning occurred in response to comments Brown made to team members that could be perceived as sexist.

One message said, “Hoping the director of the rugby team knows I *accidentally* messed up his food when he came into my restaurant,” and was reinforced with another saying:

“It was subtle. He probably didn’t notice. Normally I wouldn’t have been so petty but I have a friend on the team who told me things he’s said about all the issues with feminism at UMW.”

Brown declined to make a comment regarding the matter.

When asked for statements, several men’s rugby team members also declined to comment on the issue. However, anonymous members of the men’s and women’s rugby teams stated that Brown also has a troubled relationship with the women’s rugby team.

In October of 2016, Brown offered to sponsor the women’s rugby team. However, women’s rugby members said they declined the offer.

Members of both women’s and men’s rugby have said that Brown can be abrasive at times, and uses his authority to intimidate people, even those he is coaching.

According to members of both teams, Brown appears to be in fine health. Two sources close to the matter said that his illness was not very serious. One source said that it was unclear whether his slight illness had been caused by the tampering of his food.

Events that led up to some of the tensions with Mothers Rugby, began in 2014 when the team came under fire due to chanting sexist songs that included offensive lyrics.

The rugby teams were recently classified as having varsity status, leaving them under the supervision of the athletic department. They were put on suspension and required to participate in education and training sessions regarding sexual assault and violence. Due to the suspension, the men’s team was not able to go to the Nationals in Washington State because they were not recognized at that time.

The UMW upholding of Title IX is taken very seriously, and the standards of the university leave no room for prejudice of any kind.

Currently, rugby team members say that they are ready to move on from the past. The men’s team has become elevated into a Division 1 category, and has currently accepted players internationally. There has been no evidence of the team’s current involvement in any sexist activities that would continue to fuel a fire, or warrant activities of retaliation that were displayed in the current investigation requested by Brown.

Multiple members from the men’s team responded with an eagerness to move forward with their reputation and goals.

An anonymous UMW alum and former Mother’s Rugby team member stated that “I had contentions with the school for what happened that year regarding the sexist activity, but I would love to see feminists invited to Rugby matches.”

Though Feminist United members declined to comment, some feminists agree that the UMW climate has been changing for the better since the incident, demonstrating that UMW is a campus that is increasingly progressive.

Feminist and junior creative writing major, Leni Williams, believes that the sexist and bias issues experienced within the UMW community have been changing for the better.

“I feel that we have improved in diversity and tolerance since my freshman year on campus,” Williams said.

Concerning the conduct under investigation regarding Brown and his food being tampered with, Williams gave no support to the presumed activity.

“As a feminist, I feel that, even though we are students, we are adults and should be held accountable,” Williams said. “I think we should always strive to avoid harming people. There would certainly be better ways to handle sexist things being said, and there are always better avenues than resorting to physical harm.”

Comments

  1. Harry

    This story is so off base and wrong – very little fact here.

  2. Anonymous

    There’s a lot going on here missing the biggest point: A comment from one of the UMW Women’s Rugby coaches regarding this “offer” because as someone who played on the team for four years.. I don’t ever remembering him offering his services.

    There should most definitely be a title IX investigation into him and his “services”. Women’s rugby, despite winning a national championship, still hasn’t received any sponsors. Tim Brown is definitely sexist..

  3. Lisa

    As someone who personal knows Tim Brown and has been around him the past 6 years as he has worked with the rugby team, he is nothing at all like he is being portrayed in this article. He is the one who had his food messed with by a student at UMW who then told people she did it. If UMW has such high standards why is nothing be done to the student that did this? I have been there as he has coached the men’s team and has attempted to help the women’s team. I have seen the emails. He wanted to get them uniforms and sponsors but nobody wanted his assistance. He has spoken to many potential sponsors and Canterbury about them but their team doesn’t seem interested in his help. Back in November, we sat in a downtown restaurant and he spoke to the owner in regards to the women’s rugby team and sponsorship. Whenever he does speak of them he mentions they have won a National Championship and I know this because I have heard it first hand. You don’t really know him but you will post crap about him.

    This article contains so much false information as I was right there in regards to the food issue and what I am reading is so false. I was present when one of the reporters writing this story contacted him and heard their conversation and nothing that is in this story is what was talked about. This seems to be a story that was written to cause problems amongst teams and not deal with the real issue which is what a UMW student posted on Yik Yak and actually did.

    Again if UMW has such great standards how about doing a story on the team that about 3 weeks ago sent offensive text messages that violate UMW statements of community values and the department of athletics code of conduct. Whatever happen with that, investigate that.

  4. Girl Rugger

    Hey Anonymous – I was there when he offered, and he did offer to help multiple times. He met us after two games, on the field, he also talked to my dad. Our team said they did not want logos on our uniforms which sponsors want. “We” as a team need to grow up, I have no issue with him or anyone on the men’s team. Not fair to make comments like that. Glad you played for us for 4 years though. Sweet.

  5. Anonymous

    “I have a friend on the team who told me things he’s said about all the issues with feminism at UMW.”

    So they decided to poison his food? How does this show the UMW feminist community doesn’t have a problem?

  6. Anon

    This article is more of a reflection on how poor the reporting is at this school. The dude gets allegedly poisoned with social media validating a motive and he is painted as the villain. Pretty unprofessional article.

  7. Sarah

    Anon – thank you and god bless you. I know him and his family. This is so wrong – these are people that don’t deserve this. I know for a fact that he had never met, spoken to, or even communicated with the student that was posting threatening things on Yik Yak. He ignored it for a while and finally went to police. This is so wrong and UMW should take action to protect faculty and volunteers.

  8. Timothy, from Beautiful Northern Idaho

    Greetings from beautiful Northern Idaho. As a UMW alum, I’d like to provide some feedback for the faculty, editors, and reporters responsible for this article. Although I enjoy following the UMW Men’s Rugby Club’s successes, I have no contact with the team. The observations I make are my own and are obvious to any who look, even from across the country.

    The title “Search Warrant from Fredericksburg Circuit Court Involves Men’s Rugby Coach” as well as its associated ‘teaser text’ appear at the top of Google searches. Your publication should change the headline and teaser HTML to reflect what the story is actually about because they are misleading and defamatory. A better, more accurate headline might be “Feminist Student(s) Investigated in Food Poisoning Incidents.”

    How the victim is portrayed in the article is also a big problem. Very little is said about what might have caused this incident or who the suspects are. At the same time, the person made violently ill is somehow the subject of the article. Anonymous references to ‘abrasive’ and ‘sexist’ attitudes make it seem like the publication feels that he got what he deserved. This would be like reporting on student sexual assault like this: “Young woman reported being repeatedly sexually assaulted on campus. Anonymous sources say that Jane Doe often dresses like a slut before going out and asked for it. She is president of the UMW Dogwalkers Club, who have had problems with slutty behavior in the past which probably brought the incident on.” –Do you want the Hickory or the Oak frame for your Pulitzer?

    After following its undefeated Spring ’17 season, I will continue to be a fan of Mother’s Rugby at the University of Mary Washington. Their dominance on the field is just part of it. Campus leadership, community service, and being great ambassadors for the sport are also big reasons why the club is such as enormous asset to the university. Unfortunately, even from a Bitterroot Range mountain top, one can detect something poisonous on the campus of the University of Mary Washington. –And it isn’t the food. Know what it is?

    Use your noodle.

  9. Mary Washington.

    “Timothy from Northern Idaho”: as a current lady in the community, I want to thank you for trying to shock some sense into these “writers”. My question is, who allows this to go out? These writers should be ashamed of themselves.

  10. Lisa

    As I previously said I have been around Tim personally for the past 6 years. Unfortunately, UMW takes no action to protect its faculty, volunteers or alumnae. The meet secretly and determine there is nothing wrong with the article. No one ever takes responsibility publicly for being wrong. Not sure what values they are really teaching and instilling in todays young people. What the reporters should have done is instead of putting this article back up is put up the following email one of them sent privately sent. Obviously, by putting this article back up she shows that her email was not written because she truly feels the way she describes in it. It was sent only after a few complaints were filed about the untruth and poor reporting of this article. Here is that email

    Dear Tim Brown,

    An apology is due to you. I am truly sorry for how my article came out, and how you were perceived within it. The direction that the piece took was really not the direction that I had initially wanted it to go, but I allowed sensationalism to take over, and put things in that should not have been inserted. It was right for the article to have been taken off of the website, and I am embarrassed that it has my name on it. I should have used the warrant to express how far we have come as a college, and that the general UMW population would not condone that behavior, but instead, I failed as a dignified reporter and allowed my piece to take a ridiculous and disgraceful direction. I will have to deal with the professional repercussions, and I offer up my apologies for hurting you and misrepresenting your intentions here at UMW.

    Sincerely,
    Rebecca Melson

    Rebecca took the time to write this but the article goes back up. So someone at the Blue and Gray is not bothered by any perceptions or how hurtful this is to anyone close to Tim which would be me and his young kids. To the reporters, editor in chief and faculty advisor hopefully in your lifetime you don’t have to experience a piece written containing items that are not true about someone you love and care about. ​

  11. Anonymous

    He should sue the school. I would. So the person that WROTE the article has decided it was wrong, apologized for defaming him, they took it down, then put it back up despite the letter of apology. Lawsuit time. Great work UMW – you have a great track record with lawsuits.

  12. Philip (2008 alum)

    That’s funny, I didn’t think this article was particularly critical of the rugby coach.

    The only comments that could be read as even slightly critical of the coach are these:

    * * *

    “When asked for statements, several men’s rugby team members also declined to comment on the issue. However, anonymous members of the men’s and women’s rugby teams stated that Brown also has a troubled relationship with the women’s rugby team.

    In October of 2016, Brown offered to sponsor the women’s rugby team. However, women’s rugby members said they declined the offer.

    Members of both women’s and men’s rugby have said that Brown can be abrasive at times, and uses his authority to intimidate people, even those he is coaching.”

    * * *

    The claims that Mr. Brown is intimidating, is abrasive, and has a “troubled relationship” with the women’s rugby team do not sound particularly damaging to me. The article is about exactly what it says it’s about, and even seems to adhere pretty well to the inverted pyramid format.

  13. Anonymous

    Philip: Apparently the author of the article read her work more critically than you did. I am in agreement with her – it was poorly written, sensationalistic, and thoughtless.

  14. Philip (2008 alum)

    Anonymous, I’m not sure how you know that the email attributed to the author of the letter is genuine. Unless of course you and “Lisa” are the same poster. Until the Blue and Gray Press decides to print a retraction, I personally will not take the unverified and unsourced claims of posters too seriously.

  15. Philip (2008 alum)

    I don’t feel comfortable cold-emailing Rebecca Melson at this time. What bothers me about the people who are claiming that this article has said something terrible about the current UMW rugby coach is that nothing that was said in the article was particularly damaging (as I said above).

    You (and the other commenter who included the alleged email) have both said that you are linked to the UMW community and that you know the rugby coach personally. I used to play rugby at UMW myself (though not very well), and am curious as to whether or not you can give the last name of any other coach who has coached rugby at UMW. If possible, could you please give the last name and hair color of the main rugby coach who was active in 2006? Extra credit if you can state about how many miles we jogged each day during practice.

    I checked and you cannot find this information out on Google. So I will find the claims of you and the other poster much more believable if you can answer my simple questions.

  16. Sammy

    2006 – Kyle Haran’s glory years? You guys obviously did not jog enough. Coaches?: Probably “Guy” the SA coach or Jeff the Englishman? Who cares? I have a vision of you guys jogging around in sagging shirts telling each other how tough you were.

    Philip, Tim is not even the rugby coach, he works as a fundraiser and recruiter. This article is just hot trash top to bottom. Poorly researched and classless. Don’t even attempt to defend this type of reporting.

  17. Philip (2008 alum)

    Ok “Sammy,” that is completely wrong. We jogged plenty–3 miles per practice, at least.

    I asked you to give the last name and/or hair color of our coach because that is something that you cannot just find on Google.

    Perhaps you Googled: site:linkedin.com mother’s rugby 2006

    Until one of the people criticizing this article and claiming to be linked to UMW rugby can do that, I’m just going to assume that you are trolls.

    I’m done posting on this thread until that happens.

  18. Rugby Alum

    Rugby Alum here warning students – if you speak to this newspaper anonymously, they will leak your name. The “alum” quoted in the article lives right off campus in a corner house, weighs about 140 lbs soaking wet, and his name is B—t. Way to keep your sources “anonymous” ladies. The great reporting continues.

    Don’t talk to these people, ever.

  19. Sammy

    Wow – hot trash journalism 101.

    False headlines, slander, shady “facts” and now a leaked anonymous source? Let me guess, someone asked one of the author’s their sources and they told them “if you promise, pinky swear, not to tell anyone else!?”.

  20. 1996Grad

    As someone that has known Tim for well over 20 years I urge the school to take this down. When I read the banner I was shocked, when I read the article I was sorry that I am a UMW (then MWC) grad.

    This is truly a new low, attacking the victim?

  21. UseYOURRealNameNextTime

    For someone to sit here and troll and post an apology that he didn’t deserve after harrassing writers of a story, trying to embarrass students and the work they did regarding a very AMBIGUOUS story, and for all of these people to back him in his BAD behavior, is mindboggling to me.
    A toddler throws a tantrum, you don’t tell him it’s okay to act out, even if he’s justified in being upset. There are better ways in voicing your dissenting voice, than defaming the writers and being “sorry that you’re a graduate” of a great university, while backing someone that is trolling this page that is constitutionally backed by FREE SPEECH.
    Clearly the problem isn’t small, and common sense isn’t common.
    I know the girls that wrote this story personally, and I watched them investigate and report to the best of their abilities, as we are all AMATEUR writers writing for a NEWS WRITING CLASS.
    Let’s talk facts, the guy you all are portraying as the victim is trolling the page and posting rebuttles but won’t even use his OWN NAME.
    the apology made by Ms. Melson, to quell the issue, was sincere, and posted sneakily by a man with clearly little to no integrity and MUCH too much time on his hands to create persona after persona to discredit an article that can be either taken positively or negatively on the part of the reader.

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