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Local News

Local News

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New Legislation Aims to Keep U of I Doctor from Teaching

Updated: Wednesday, May 21 2014, 03:38 PM CDT

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA -- An adjunct professor who served six and a half years for second degree murder is fighting to keep his job at the University of Illinois. James Kilgore was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. The radical political group is responsible for the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst in the 70's, plus robberies and murders. The board of trustees in Champaign-Urbana says Kilgore is a "domestic terrorist" who shouldn't be working there.

"As a young man, I committed acts of which I stand ashamed."
Kilgore says that with his past made public he is now fighting to maintain his job as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois. He was a 70's radical. Once part of the Symbionese Liberation Army or S.L.A. which was most famous for kidnapping and radicalizing Patty Hearst.
Kilgore was part of a 1975 bank robbery in which Myrna Opsahl was killed.  Although, Kilgore didn't fire the shot he was ultimately guilty by connection. Caught with pipe bombs in a plot to blow up police cars.

"Who better to tell someone how to avoid a destructive path than someone who has walked that path and what better place for young people to learn these lessons than in one of the most esteemed universities in the land, like the University of Illinois," Kilgore states.

He spent 27 years on the lamb acquiring degrees under the stolen identity of a dead 10-month old and thriving in the University environment. He was finally arrested in south Africa in 2002, convicted and served his time. Now Kilgore is out and working at the University of Illinois.               

Board member Christopher Kennedy told the News Gazette on May 9th that  - "Should a domestic terrorist bent on overthrowing the government by targeting the murder of police and who was involved in a killing be on the public payroll? The answer is no."

On campus, the students with whom we spoke didn't know James Kilgore existed, let alone anything about his past. When we explained, opinions were mixed.
MOS says:          "It's as surprising, a little concerning too. I mean having a convicted felon on staff here?."
MOS says:          "I  think we all do stupid stuff when we're younger."

MOS says:          "In fact, someone like that might be much more interesting and have many more life experiences to communicate tot he students than somebody who just served their whole life inside the confines of the little world here."

Kilgore is appealing the decision of the university board, but the latest communication is that his contract will not be renewed.
A bill moving through the Statehouse would make it illegal to falsify credentials to gain employment. The bill's sponsor -- Senator Chapin Rose says the legislation is in response to Dr. James kilgore's employment at the University of Illinois.

Rose says Kilgore, "fraudulently stole the identity of a deceased child to obtain his degree under false pretenses."

The University has recently faced criticism over its decision not to re-hire Kilgore. Kilgore served 6 years in prison for for his role in the murder of a California woman during a bank robbery in the seventies.

Calls to a phone number listed for James Kilgore were not returned. We also reached out the U of I for comment, but a spokesperson said they were unfamiliar with Rose's legislation and couldn't comment on the identity fraud claim. He also declined to comment on the decision to not rehire Kilgore saying, "it was a personnel matter."

New Legislation Aims to Keep U of I Doctor from Teaching

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