CLINTON — A former University of Central Arkansas student testified Monday that ex-university chief of staff Jack Gillean gave him master keys on multiple occasions so he could burglarize offices and steal tests.
Cameron Stark was the second witness called on the first day of testimony in the trial of Jack Gillean, who faces six counts of commercial burglary. The trial is being held in Van Buren County Circuit Court, where it was moved because of pretrial publicity.
Stark testified he met Gillean in 2010 while a student studying biology at UCA and the two became "close friends." Stark would go over to Gillean's apartment frequently and they would drink together, Stark said, and Gillean later hired Stark to work in the UCA president's office.
"We were close friends at that point," Stark said. "It was more of a friendship. In a way he was my boss, but it was more of a friendship than anything else."
Stark recalled for the jury of seven men, five women and two alternates that he was driving Gillean around campus on a snow day at the school when they passed Lewis Science Center. Stark said he asked Gillean whether he had a key to access offices inside.
Gillean said he did and they stopped and Gillean used a master key to open a cell biology professor's office while Stark went inside, Stark testified. He added he then found a forthcoming exam on the professor's computer and printed it off before they left.
Stark said he asked Gillean for the keys on multiple future occasions and got them before he would use them to steal tests, returning the keys afterward. Once, the key didn't work, so Stark went back and told Gillean.
"He gave me a key that eventually worked," Stark said, noting that he used the tests to prepare for "rigorous" exams he might have failed otherwise.
Gillean's defense attorney, Tim Dudley, told jurors in opening statements that Stark knew where Gillean kept the master keys in his apartment and that Gillean had given Stark a key to the residence — but not permission to take the UCA keys. He took them without Gillean knowing, Dudley said, and invented the story about Gillean's involvement to avoid being charged himself.
Stark was arrested — and Gillean's master keys were found in his possession — after he was identified in surveillance video during one of the burglaries. He was given immunity from prosecution in return for testifying against Gillean.
"He made a deal," Dudley said. "He basically told the police if you don't charge me, if you leave me alone, I'll give you Jack Gillean ... And the police bought his story."
Gillean resigned from his post at UCA in 2012 after the controversy surrounding the keys came to light.
The court recessed early for lunch before cross-examination of Stark because a problem with a waterline cut off water to the courthouse. It was expected to be repaired by noon, when the trial is scheduled to resume.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.