A former medical student is seeking a public apology and to be reinstated as a student at California Health Sciences University in Clovis in a lawsuit that alleges the school violated his First Amendment rights over racist and discriminatory comments he made.
Nicholas Sciaroni, a Fresno native who served in the U.S. Army, made the allegations in a lawsuit filed Dec. 13 in Fresno County Superior Court. Sciaroni formerly attended Fresno State, where he helped revive the campus Turning Point club.
The lawsuit outlines the timeline of the university’s investigation into Sciaroni’s comments, made both in classes and online, and Sciaroni’s attempt to disqualify the investigator and hearing officer.
California Health Sciences University in Clovis was founded in 2012 by the Assemi family. The university offers doctorate programs in pharmacy and osteopathic medicine.
University officials declined to comment on the matter, citing student privacy laws.
Besides an apology and reinstatement, Sciaroni, in his lawsuit, also seeks a judgment declaring the First Amendment protects his beliefs; that the university withdraws the complaint that resulted in his dismissal; free speech training for the university’s employees; and attorney fees.
The lawsuit says Sciaroni’s classmates and school guests were offended by derogatory comments he made about people of color and immigrants, among other things.
One classmate alleged Sciaroni stated, “This country is going to turn into a third world shit hole full of mud houses because of immigrants.”
The university’s investigation found Sciaroni admitted encouraging classmates to Google the phrase “White family,” but he denied referencing a Jewish conspiracy theory. Sciaroni admitted to talking about Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, and a witness heard Sciaroni referencing Jewish people owning all of Hollywood/media and stating that all of Hollywood are pedophiles, or similar words, the investigation found.
At least two classmates were offended by comments Sciaroni made about no longer watching the NFL because they were hiring too many Black coaches. Sciaronia also posted on Instagram the word “Nicker,” which at least one classmate found offensive for its similarity to the n-word. In a class discussion about assisting Black mothers with infants, Sciaroni asked aloud about an organization for white infants, the investigation found.
A university letter to Sciaroni that was attached to the lawsuit also notes complaints were made about Sciaroni for making gendered comments suggesting women were inferior, “crazy,” and that there are only two genders.
The letter also stated that complaints were made alleging Sciaroni approached students of color at Fresno State, questioning them about their immigration status and approaching the Fresno State Muslim Student Association, making false claims about hijabs.
Sciaroni alleges in the lawsuit that the university violated education laws by dismissing him for the comments and argues that his comments are protected speech.
He argues in the lawsuit that his comments didn’t interfere with classwork, did not cause disorder, or breach the peace at the university. He alleges the university unlawfully censored him and reacted with hostility to his unpopular ideas, opinions, and beliefs.
The lawsuit also includes letters sent by Sciaroni’s attorney, J.R. Oviedo, questioning the relationship between the university’s Title IX coordinator and the attorneys hired to investigate the grievances against Sciaroni. Oviedo and Sciaroni sought the removal of two attorneys from the investigation.
Past free speech conflicts
The lawsuit is not the first time Sciaroni has argued over free speech rights.
In 2019 while he attended Fresno State, Sciaroni and his fellow Turning Point club members discussed Second Amendment rights in the campus’s free speech area. A professor confronted them, and one club member started to record, according to a KMPH news story on the incident.
The professor argued it was illegal for the student to record him, and Sciaroni debated with him about recording laws.
Sciaroni also went on a talk radio show to talk about the incident.
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