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Friday, October 11, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Shoreline professor resigns post amid allegations of computer misuse

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Shoreline Community College professor has resigned after the state Auditor's Office uncovered evidence that he violated state ethics laws and school policies by using his office computer to view pornographic movies, visit adult-oriented Web sites and conduct personal legal business.

A report issued this week by the state Auditor's Office alleges that James N. Jory, 59, a full-time, tenured professor and part-time attorney who taught business administration and international-studies courses at Shoreline from 1990 until his resignation Sept. 30, used a state-owned computer to view more than 70,000 "graphic images and movies that contained adult-oriented material."

The auditor's report also charges that at least one document and more than a dozen e-mails were found on the computer, all of which "contained information related to the employee's outside work as an attorney."

Jory declined to comment about the allegations.

"I'm not at liberty to discuss it," Jory said yesterday. "I don't know what my future will be. I have no comment."

State Auditor Brian Sonntag said the case demonstrates that unlawful use of state resources can and will be detected and rooted out.

"That was an awful lot of inappropriate use of a state computer," said Sonntag, who added, "Any of those uses is illegal."

This week, Jory's case was referred to the state Executive Ethics Board for possible disciplinary action. The board's next meeting is scheduled for early November.

Characterized by those who know him as a well-respected faculty member, Jory held the position of full professor and associate dean of Shoreline's business-administration division. Over the years, Jory taught a variety of courses, including Introductory Law and a class called E-Business, both of which have been canceled for the fall 2002 quarter. All substantive references to Jory have been removed from Shoreline's Web site.

Shoreline officials say Jory participated in at least three ethics-training courses since joining the school. In recent years, Jory was a member of an in-house committee at Shoreline that established school policies prohibiting use of computers and other state resources for private use, personal benefit or commercial gain.

Shoreline President Holly Moore said disclosure of Jory's suspected behavior stunned her and many of his former colleagues.

"This was a great shock and a big concern to the college," Moore said. "It just seemed incongruous with the rest of his work over the course of his tenure. I don't think there's any way we could have anticipated this."

Moore added that Shoreline will strengthen its ethics-training courses to impress upon its employees the importance of ethical behavior.

Jory had long been suspected of using state resources to conduct personal business, said some familiar with the case.

According to the auditor's report, however, the extent of Jory's alleged ethical lapses didn't come to light until December 2001, when he was seen by another Shoreline employee watching a pornographic video on his office computer. The report further states that Jory received a warning from the school at that time and agreed to "cease the inappropriate use of the state computer."

But seven months later, the report says, Jory had failed to curb his behavior, which prompted an unidentified whistle-blower to report the matter to the Auditor's Office. After releasing its report this week, the Auditor's Office referred the case to the state Executive Ethics Board, which has the authority to penalize state employees who violate ethics rules.

Recent history suggests that the board could still seek to punish Jory, though he is no longer a state employee.

In 1999 a state worker who downloaded more than 1,400 adult-oriented images to his state-owned computer was fined $3,000 after he resigned.

And in 1997, a state employee was fined $1,000 for sending personal e-mail using state equipment.

"It's not unusual" for the board to pursue such cases, said Brian Malarky, executive director of the ethics board. "It just depends on the significance of the amount of damage to state resources."

Robert Marshall Wells: 206-464-2607 or rwells@seattletimes.com.

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