Mirecki mum on details of beating

With a bruise visible under his right eye, Paul Mirecki paid a visit Tuesday afternoon to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Mirecki, a Kansas University religious studies professor, has been in the national spotlight since he reported early Monday that he was beaten by two unidentified men who made reference to his controversial online remarks about religion.

Sheriff’s officials on Tuesday continued to investigate the case, and they’ve asked for the public’s help in finding the suspects Mirecki described: two white men in their 30s or 40s, one with a red visor and wool gloves, both wearing jeans, and driving a large pickup truck.

As he waited outside the sheriff’s office, Mirecki said he’d stopped returning phone calls from the media. And he declined to talk with a reporter about details of the case.

Within moments, a sheriff’s deputy came out to meet him and bring him into the office.

“We can always develop more information when we have an opportunity to talk to the victim a second time,” Lt. Kari Wempe, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said. “I do not know what the purpose of that interview is.”

Mirecki, the chairman of the religious studies department, caused an uproar recently with his remarks on the Internet about an upcoming course in which he planned to teach intelligent design as mythology. He said the class would be a “slap” in the “big fat face” of religious fundamentalists.

Early Monday, Mirecki reported to deputies that he was driving in a rural area south of Lawrence when two men in a large pickup truck began tailgating him and he pulled over. He said he got out and the two men beat him with their fists and a metal object while making references to the recent Internet controversy.

He was treated and released at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

“I got the hell beat out of me,” he told the Journal-World on Monday.

Key facts about the reported attack remained unclear Tuesday, including exactly where it happened. A report released by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said the location was “unknown” and listed it as south of 31st Street on either East 1400 Road or East 1500 Road.

Louisiana Street turns into East 1400 Road outside the city limits. Haskell Avenue becomes East 1500 Road.

Also, there was conflicting information about whether Mirecki reported it at the scene or at the hospital. In an interview Monday with the Journal-World, he said he called police from the side of the road, but sheriff’s officials said they were dispatched to the hospital.

Mirecki declined to clarify the discrepancy when asked about it Tuesday outside the sheriff’s office.

“I can; I just don’t want to,” he said.

The sheriff’s report, which is classified as an aggravated battery, says that Mirecki suffered minor injuries. It says the incident started about 6:20 a.m. and was reported about 6:40 a.m.

KU faculty on Tuesday pondered the effects that recent weeks’ events would have on the religious studies department.

“I don’t think we know how it’s going to shake out yet,” professor Tim Miller said. “This is a difficult time to get through. I want to get through as well as we can.”

Religious studies professor Jonathan Boyarin said, “I hope that we will be able to move forward in our scholarship and teaching with mutual respect among the academic community and the people of Kansas and the larger community around us.”