Professor jailed
on word of felon

By Les Kinsolving

Dr. Robert Moore Strippy, age 70, is a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania who holds doctorates of music from the Universities of Paris and Rome, and is a former instructor at the University of Virginia.

He is also a former speechwriter for President Eisenhower.

He is now, despite his very serious health problems, prisoner number 332218 PMV at the State of Virginia’s Powhatan Correctional Center in State Farm, Va.

He is beginning a ten-year prison sentence. This is the result of a jury decision so absolutely incredible as to recall either France’s Alfred Dreyfus or the first jury sentence that freed O.J. Simpson.

This jury apparently took the word of a 40-year-old double ex-convict (larceny and defrauding an innkeeper) named Donald Swann.

In the Circuit Court of Augusta County, Va., Swann testified that he was solicited for oral sex by Dr. Strippy and then, when Swann refused, he was shot in the stomach.

Friends and associates of Strippy, who has no prior criminal record, can affirm his court testimony that he never had any homosexual relationship whatsoever and is decidedly heterosexual. I remember him as one of the most superb organists I have ever heard, or worked with, as well as a man of exceptional brilliance.

One of the very few media that covered this trial was the Staunton News Leader, which reported that Dr. Strippy’s attorney, Lloyd Snook, filed a request for a new trial “because evidence of Swann being drunk during the shooting was never presented at the original trial,” where Strippy was represented by public defender Robert Garnett.

“Snook said Swann’s blood alcohol following the shooting registered .17 – more than twice Virginia’s legal limit. ‘The jury didn’t get to hear that,’ Snook told Judge Thomas Wood: ‘We believe that this testimony that should have been allowed.'”

Dr. Strippy testified that on a dark night at the Greenstone Overlook on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway, he parked his vehicle without noticing he was blocking the view of Swann’s vehicle.

Swann, carrying a wooden club, came to him and demanded that he move – with a suggestion that Dr. Strippy was a homosexual.

When Strippy denied this accusation and declined to obey his order, he testified that Swann began beating him repeatedly with his wooden club.

In desperation, Strippy reached under his vehicle’s seat to reach a .38-caliber pistol belonging to his former fianc?e, Erin Keller, with whom he had recently driven to Kansas to visit relatives.

When Dr. Strippy displayed this pistol in an effort to stop his being beaten by this twice-convicted criminal, Swann grabbed it and pulled – with the result that it discharged, wounding Swann in the stomach.

Swann then retreated to his car. Both he and Strippy drove away and both notified the police.

The Staunton New Leader reported:

“During the trial, Swann testified that that evening he consumed about five beers from what he described as 7-ounce bottles. He spent a week at the University of Virginia Medical Center where he underwent abdominal surgery and had a bowel resection. … An investigator from the Augusta County Sheriff’s office reported that no bruises or markings were found on Strippy following the incident.”

But Dr. Strippy was examined and a CAT scan was performed on him shortly after the shooting at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Strippy friend Angela Hunter Richardson notes:

“Photos were taken when Dr. Strippy reported the incident. The examination photos and scan results clearly show that Dr. Strippy was, as he testified, beaten with a cudgel by the drunken felon who assaulted him. … Those records were never admitted as testimony. Public Defender Garnett waited to subpoena them until three days before the trial. And Judge Wood refused to wait for them before trying Dr. Strippy on felony charges.”

Moreover, “The gun was never fingerprinted” – which would have provided evidence – along with the defense exhibit of that wooden cudgel – that this legally inebriated repeat felon grabbed the pistol, causing himself to be shot in the stomach.

Will any of the University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia alumni move to help this professor instructor emeritus, who may well die in prison where his serious health problems are not being treated sufficiently?

And will the leaders of Virginia, including Gov. Mark Warner and U.S. Sens. George Allen and John Warner – who have been appealed to – do anything to stop the outrageous injustice of the word of a twice-convicted felon being believed, rather than the holder of three doctorates and former speechwriter for President Eisenhower?