Former SOU professor sentenced to probation, possible jail time for stalking former student

The Jackson County Courthouse in Medford. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth
May 10, 2022

Paul Pavlich pleads guilty to stalking charge; University removes his name from prestigious political science award

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

Former Southern Oregon University department head Paul Andrew Pavlich was sentenced Tuesday for stalking former SOU student Petra Lilley.

Appearing before Judge Tim Barnack at Jackson County Circuit Court on Tuesday in Medford, Pavlich, 70, pleaded guilty to stalking constituting domestic violence. Four other charges were dropped.

Pavlich received the following sentence: 20 days in custody with the Jackson County Supervisory Authority, which could include custody in the Jackson County Jail or house arrest; 18 months bench probation; to have no contact with Lilley or her Ashland workplace; to pay restitution of an amount to be determined by the court within 90 days; and to pay an additional $100 fine.

Paul Pavlich, in a photo on the Southern Oregon University Alumni Association Facebook page from 2015.

Pavlich was ordered to surrender any firearms to the court and to turn himself in on June 7.

The Grand Jury for Jackson County indicted Pavlich on Feb. 3 on five counts: first-degree burglary (a felony); second-degree criminal mischief; second-degree theft; stalking constituting domestic violence, a misdemeanor; and second-degree criminal trespass.

According to the indictment, the burglary, criminal mischief and theft charges related to his actions on Nov. 4; the stalking occurred from Oct. 6 to Dec. 3; and the criminal trespass occurred on Dec. 3, all in 2021.  

Court records show he was arrested on Jan. 13 and released on $32,500 bail.

All charges but the stalking charge were dropped in the plea agreement, according to Pavlich’s attorney Lisa Greif. 

Pavlich, when asked if he would make a statement to the court, offered an apology to Lilley and said: “I understand what no contact means.”

Greif, his attorney, told the court that when she learned about the allegations made against Pavlich, she was “in shock and dismay.” She said she has known his family for 25 years and she has never known him to act in this way.

“This is not his character,” Greif said, noting his time as a professor at SOU, where he was “revered.”

Greif emphasized that Pavlich has no intention of violating any of the terms of his probation or having contact with Lilley or her workplace.

“He regrets what has occurred,” Greif said. “He knows that’s caused damage to people and I think he just wishes to have this behind him and move forward.”

Lilley, 31, took political science classes taught by Pavlich in 2018 and leading up to his retirement in 2019. During the summer of 2020, Lilley was hired as a gardener at his home, according to her. 

In emails Lilley provided Ashland.news, Pavlich details his extra-marital affair with Lilley, which she says was between December 2020 and summer 2021. During that time, in which neither worked at or studied at SOU, they exchanged emails on his SOU email server. In late summer 2021, she said she decided to end the affair. 

After she decided to end the relationship, Pavlich on or about Nov. 4, 2021, allegedly alarmed Lilley by engaging in “repeated and unwanted contact” causing her “reasonable apprehension,” according to court documents.

Lilley told Ashland.news that between October and November 2021, Pavlich emailed her more than 30 times without a response from her, following the end to their relationship that summer.  

Pavlich was arrested in connection with allegedly vandalizing the tree outside of her Ashland workplace by placing on it undergarments and intimate objects belonging to Lilley, as detailed for the court by Leslie Gore, a friend and coworker of Lilley’s. Charges related to the alleged vandalism were later dropped.

“Not since childhood have I felt as vulnerable as on a 14-foot ladder removing bras, panties, and sex toys with a hockey stick contemplating the planning and effort exerted by Mr. Pavlich,” Gore stated to the court. 

Her description is the most detailed accounting on public record, as the court sealed the affidavit of probable cause in the case. Such affidavits are statements from arresting authorities explaining why the prosecution has grounds to file charges and usually contain narrative details not found in an indictment.

Gore said, as a result of Pavlich’s actions, her workplace had to advise all employees of an “active stalker” situation, distribute his photo and car description with directions to call 911, implement a policy that no females are to work alone, and install a security camera.

“It is essential that you know that this is not a mundane matter of a consensual relationship gone astray,” Gore stated in a written document she brought to share with the court, “but a prolonged spree of stalking, trespass and vandalism. Mr. Pavlich’s terrorizing actions have had life-altering impacts on Ms. Lilley, his primary victim, but he has also inflicted calculated menace and unhinged lewdness on me and our co-workers.”

Lilley told Ashland.news she was not present for the court hearing because she has relocated out of fear for her safety. 

She says she remains fearful that the courts have confirmed a “sense of impunity” and have emboldened Pavlich to continue to escalate dangerous and calculated behavior toward her.

Lilley added, however, “I do feel somewhat validated with the guilty plea to stalking.”

Judge, prosecutors step aside from case

Gore said she believes Pavlich’s sentence was lightened due to his connections in the court system.

“The sentence should not be perfunctory but significant enough to remind him his conduct has legal bounds even if he no longer has moral ones,” Gore stated.

Pavlich is married to Jeni Feinburg, a longtime attorney in Jackson County. Their daughter, Rachel Pavlich, is also an attorney in Jackson County.

Josephine County Deputy District Attorney Olivia Mendez served as prosecuting attorney, instead of a Jackson County prosecutor, to avoid potential conflicts of interest. 

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Cromwell, citing a conflict, recused herself from the case in February.

Mendez emphasized that Lilley was consulted regarding the plea agreement and said there was fairness in the process. 

Greif, Pavlich’s attorney, citing the defendant’s “familial relationships,” requested on Feb. 18 that the probable cause affidavit for the case be sealed, according to a court document. The document says Mendez, the prosecutor, did not object to sealing the affidavit, and the request was approved by Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia on Feb. 22.

SOU responds to sentencing

Pavlich served as an educator at SOU for 35 years and became the chair of the History and Political Science Department. He was a pre-law adviser prior to his retirement from SOU in 2019.  

The Political Science Department named an award given to the most outstanding graduate in Political Science the Paul Pavlich Award. His name has been removed from the award, SOU officials said Tuesday.

SOU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sue Walsh commented on Pavlich in an email Tuesday.

“This is a very serious matter for the university and our students, and we are addressing it as such,” Walsh said, via Joe Mosley, director of community and media relations for SOU. “However, we cannot discuss it in more detail due to privacy concerns and our ongoing inquiries into the situation.” 

Generally speaking, SOU officials stated it does everything in its power to ensure that faculty maintain professional relationships with students. The university indicated it recognizes an inherent power imbalance between instructors and students. 

In an attempt to prevent this type of situation from negatively impacting a student’s educational experience, SOU has adopted  The Conflict of Interests Specific to Consensual Relationships policy. Additionally, all employees must complete sexual harassment training every two years. 

SOU officials encourage anyone who has concerns about potential violations of the consensual relationships policy to reach out to the Office of Equity Grievance where they can receive confidential support and information.

Prior to Pavlich’s years at SOU, he practiced law in Portland and, prior to that, had a short career as a tight end with the Cleveland Browns, according to the Oregon Encyclopedia, for which he wrote an article on former Oregon Congressman Les AuCoin.

Freelance reporter Stephen Floyd contributed to this report. Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.


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