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Daughters of former state representative sue MUSC over allegations they cheated on exam

November 3, 2017 GMT

The twin daughters of former Republican state Rep. Kenny Bingham are suing the Medical University of South Carolina, alleging that test monitors at the school falsely accused them of cheating on an exam in May 2016.

Sisters Kellie and Kayla Bingham allege the accusations were repeated by others and eventually published in The Post and Courier, defaming them and damaging their professional careers. The Binghams also have a pending defamation lawsuit against the newspaper.

Heather Woolwine, an MUSC spokeswoman, said the school does not comment on pending litigation. The Binghams’ attorney, John E. Parker, did not return messages seeking comment.

The legal action against the school stems from an episode that landed the twins before the MUSC Honor Council, which found the Binghams guilty of cheating and voted to sanction the students. That decision was later overturned by MUSC Dean Raymond DuBois, sparking tension at the medical school.

The sisters’ lawsuit alleges that Debra Hazen-Martin, an MUSC employee monitoring the test, falsely told another monitor, Dr. Laura Kasman, the young women cheated on the second-year exam. Hazen-Martin told Kasman she saw the twins “signaling to each other and passing notes by scratch paper between them,” the suit states.

The sisters maintain these statements were untrue. They allege the school and its monitors were negligent in failing to take their status as twins into account when analyzing similarities in their test answers. The suit states “it is well known in academia that it is common for identical twins to perform similarly on written examinations.”

The episode allegedly created a hostile environment for the Binghams and led them to temporarily withdraw from medical school, the suit states.

The Post and Courier recently asked a judge to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against the newspaper, arguing that documents obtained from MUSC support its reporting on the alleged cheating scandal. The newspaper reported the controversy involved two students with ties to prominent public officials. The newspaper did not name the Binghams or the public officials. Their names became public when the sisters filed suit against the newspaper in October 2016.

Their father is a former House Majority leader and Lexington representative who retired from the Legislature last year. His father, William Bingham Sr., sits on MUSC’s Board of Trustees.

The documents recently obtained from MUSC confirmed the Honor Council found evidence of cheating by the Binghams, citing an independent analysis of the test results. The documents also revealed concerns by Honor Council members that cheating had occurred on previous exams.

The newspaper published inaccurate information about the council’s recommended punishment for the sisters. But its lawyer has argued the cheating allegations were at the heart of the lawsuit, not the sisters’ punishment.