Orange Street News



June 14, 2016

By Hilde Kate Lysiak

EDITORS NOTE: Below is a letter from Al Peterson, the man who has been been banned from Susquehanna  University for being a suspected creeper while looking for his lost dog. Last week a man from Virginia began a petition he will deliver to SU asking that the ban be stopped.The Orange Street News has reached out to Susquehanna University to get their side of the story, but the University has refused to comment. 

A lot of people have been following my story about being banned from Susquehanna University, which is being covered by Hilde Lysiak of The Orange Street News. I am amazed at how many people have reached out in support, and someone even started a petition on requesting the ban be lifted. Which is awesome!! However, there seems to be some people who don’t believe that is the WHOLE story. If I read a story as absurd as this one I too would think there were parts of the story missing, or something not being told to the public. So I would like to take this opportunity to personally explain the story from the beginning and let all of the followers and supporters know every detail.

MY mother and father were visiting from upstate NY with their dog Shadow. On September 11th 2015 there was a firework show at the Selinsgrove center. Shadow was spooked by the fireworks and some how got out of our house and ran off. My family and I searched the whole night and for 6 days until we unfortunately found shadow dead in the middle of the road.

The night he ran off we drove around all night stopping and talking to ANYONE we seen on the street. We even drove onto campus that night (since we lived a few blocks from the University) and spoke with two campus security officers. We informed them that our dog ran off and someone said they seen him running in the direction of SU. They told us they would keep an eye out. They Never said anything else to us and they seen me and my car. We also called the Selinsgrove PD, State Police, the Selinsgrove Borough office, every shelter in the area, we were also working with Bellabons pet recovery. We posted our story on Facebook and soon had many members of the community reaching out to us and helping us look for Shadow.

A few days later an Alert was put out by SU. The alert described me and my car and said I was trying to lure girls into my car with a lost dog rouse. I was disgusted!! My wife called and spoke with David Gardner the director of SU campus safety, she explained that we were indeed looking for our dog and this was all a misunderstanding. Instead of asking us to come in and talk or even apologizing and retracting the alert. He began screaming at my wife insisting we caused a panic amongst the students and he had parents calling him worried. My wife told him that is the reason we called, we have 4 children of our own and do not want to cause unnecessary panic amongst the students or the community we live in. We figured at this point they would retract the alert. We waited 2 days to hear back from him, and after numerous messages he never called us back. We went to the Selinsgrove PD and spoke with Chief Garlock, we explained everything and he said he spoke with David Gardner, he then handed me a “no trespass order” which states that I was not allowed on SU property or allowed to have any contact with anyone near campus. My name was placed with the Selinsgrove PD and state police and if I violate this order In Any way I would be arrested. I was shocked!! Chief Garlock asked that we just leave it alone and stay off the property. ( at this point we had already found Shadow). We had no need to go on campus until summer when our girls swim for Selinsgrove and their meets are held their. Chief said it should all blow over by summer. So we just left it alone.

In April of 2016 I found out my son’s preschool was going to have their graduation ceremony on SU campus. His preschool had a fire and their new space wasn’t big enough for all the students and families. Anyway, my wife immediately called David Gardner to let him know about the graduation and that I would like to attend. He told my wife that I was “not allowed on campus and they had sufficient evidence against me”. My wife said “what evidence? You never even meet him, he was never arrested or charged with anything, You never even questioned him or got his side of the story. You wouldn’t even know his name had we not come forward after seeing the alert! What is wrong with you people.” He then told my wife “well he’s not allowed on campus and that it.” We were shocked, upset, angry every emotion possible. We had no clue what to do. My wife called a few attorneys hoping to get advice. No one was interested in helping. We went back to Chief Garlock and explained about the graduation and that David Gardner said No. He said to give him time to speak with Mr. Gardner and he would try to help us. For weeks we didn’t hear anything. So we went back and spoke to Chief Garlok a few times, he was very nice and understanding, but he was busy. We knew that we were not going to get an answer.

That’s when we decided to contact The Orange Street News for help. Once the article was published my wife received a Facebook message from Angela Burrows who is the Spokes women for SU. She said she has been trying to get in touch with us and they have decided to allow me to attend the graduation. It was a one time exemption for that day only and the ban would still remain in affect. We had to provide David Gardner with the date and time of the graduation. They also sent my wife other correspondence with some statements from SU students which were supposed comments made to them by me. They were ridiculous! In the letter from Mike Coyne CFO of SU. It Also said he would be willing to meet with us to discuss the issue. My wife set up an appointment for May 27th. We were hoping that this would resolve all of this nonsense and I would be able to attend my Girls swim meets.

We meet with Mr. Coyne and another woman ( I do not not remember her name, but she had a broken hand) They listened to our story, but instead of apologizing for overreacting and jumping the gun, we were told we were Lying about everything. He said Mr. Garder told him that my wife said I was home with her one night and that she was lying because they had my license plate number and Mr. Gardner himself seen me that night at around 12:30 am. I find that hard to believe. Why didn’t he stop me then? My wife asked what the license plate number was that they had, and where did they see our car? They refused to tell us. Mr. Coyne was reading statements made by female students from a sheet he had. They were specific dates and times that I supposedly approached and “harassed” female students. My wife asked for a copy and he refused. We told Mr. Coyne that these statements were ridiculous. He said I asked one female student at Kellers beer store. “What are you doing Friday night” and the student said I was lurking around he car and made her feel uncomfortable. I told them that was a lie! My wife told him that Kellers beer is not campus property and I was allowed to be there, and he should be concerned with the fact that a female student was at the beer distributor at 12:30 am. The beer distributor is not even open at that time.

He then read another statement which said I asked a female student if she seen a dog. she said “NO” but is there a reward? I said “yes the reward is me” and we both laughed. That did in fact happen. This happened on University avenue in the middle of the day, With my nephew and wife in the car. I then told him that some of his students threw beer cans at my car one time when I asked if they had seen the dog. He and the women said we were obviously lying because we never told them that before and our story keeps changing. Honestly, that was irrelevant. I didn’t care about college kids throwing things at my car, I was looking for my dog. Mr. Coyne said we were the ones bringing attention to this and blowing it out of proportion by writing on social media and going to the media.. My wife told him had we not done that. I would have not been able to attend the graduation and we wouldn’t be having this meeting right now. We tried for weeks to resolve this and it wasn’t until they seen the negative comments on FB and read the story on the orange street news that they decided to contact us. Mr. Coyne then handed me two pieces of paper that he printed off my FB page it was the ” Thank you” letter.
My wife wrote to the Orange Street News and the article from the orange street news. He told us to stop talking to the media and stop talking about SU. He then told my wife that she wrote a negative comment on FB the night before the meeting. My wife said “I haven’t wrote anything about your school recently.” He insisted she did and said he was going to find it. He went to his computer to search. Then tells my wife she deleted it. He says ” I knows it was there i read it!” My wife shook her head and laughed. Just ridiculous! Then I said how do you know that all these girls are talking about me? The lady tells me that they showed all the girls my FB picture and they said it was me. They have about 15 complaints from different students saying I harassed them and made inappropriate comments. We were obviously not allowed to see those comments.
So basically instead of the issue being resolved that day, we were told we were lying and I am not allowed on campus at all, even during the summer months to watch our kids swim, even though there are no students on campus and the “no trespass order” remains in effect because they feel I am a threat to their students. My wife told them “why would we have come forward in the begining if he did anything wrong? Why would we request this meeting if he was guilty? You never questioned him or asked to meet with us until now. Why didn’t we have this meeting months ago when this first happened? You brushed us off and treated us like shit until now, because you don’t like the ” negative” publicity. This is absolutely ridiculous and you will hear from us again.” So we went right back to The orange street news.

I know Mr. Coyne recorded our conversation and that’s fine with me. I did not do anything wrong at all and they do not want to admit they overreacted so rather than apologize or just lift the ban they will continue on with this nonsense. All I want is to be able to see my kids swim and be able to attend functions on campus when it involves my children. In all reality, since they never met me or knew what I looked I could have attended the graduation without even calling. But I once again decided to do the right thing just like coming forward in the beginning and I got screwed. So there’s the story! That’s the whole thing. I just felt everyone following needed to know. There is nothing that we are hiding. Crazy right!

Mr. Gardner is a bully, he abuses his power. He thinks he can treat people however he wants and they’re not supposed to speak up. Mr. Coyne will not admit that Mr. Gardner overreacted and made a mistake. They have to cover each other’s back. I will not stop talking about this, not just for me but for anyone else who was treated unfairly by SU or anyone else for that matter and decided not to speak up. Accusations like this can ruin a persons life. My daughters are very upset that I can not be there to watch them swim. They’re 9 and 7 and although we’ve explained it to them, they do not fully understand what’s going on. They have even said to me ” dad I don’t want to be on the swim team if you can’t come” they love to swim and my wife and I have encouraged them to continue, at least my wife can be there right now. Unless they decided to ban her too for talking about this. Although we are disgusted with this whole situation, we are trying not to let it affect our girls. Thank you for all the support.

Al Petersen

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