In 1991, Rik Scarce was a graduate student at Washington State University with longtime interests in radical social movements. Wanting to develop the area of animal rights activism as part of his graduate work, Scarce submits a proposal to this effect to his department. Scarce is planning a vacation and asks a former research participant to house-sit. While Scarce is on vacation, animal research facilities on campus are vandalized and animals are stolen or “liberated.” After the house-sitter appears on television to support animal rights activists, he is suspected by authorities of being involved in the break-in.
Scarce learns of the break-in on his return home when he sees a newspaper story about the incident. He discusses the story with the house-sitter and other individuals the house-sitter has invited to his home. Authorities suspect the other individuals of involvement in the break-in as well and want Scarce to reveal the nature of his conversations with them. After months of refusing to testify before a grand jury, Scarce agrees to answer questions relating to what he considers non-confidential (e.g., non-research) information. However, citing the then existing ASA Code of Ethics (1989), he refuses to answer other questions that pertain to his research. Scarce is jailed for more than four months under a contempt order.
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