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Hillsdale revisited

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After establishing itself as one of the high holy places of American conservatism, Michigan’s Hillsdale College found itself wallowing in tragedy and scandal last year.

In the aftermath of an apparent suicide by college official Lissa Roche, daughter-in-law of longtime Hillsdale president George Roche III, it was alleged by Roche’s son, George Roche IV, that his father and Lissa had been, ahem, intimate.

The story made national headlines. For liberals, it was yet another example of conservative hypocrisy, with moralizer George III frequently spouting off sanctimoniously about declining family values while allegedly diddling his daughter-in-law for nearly 20 years. Right-wingers could only shake their heads in bewilderment while defending the venerable institution as being more than the man who ran it with dictatorial authority for three decades.

Now comes Michigan native Roger Rapoport, who alleges in a new book that the whole unseemly incident could be even more sordid than originally revealed. In his just-published Hillsdale: Greek Tragedy in America’s Heartland, Rapoport suggests that Lissa Roche’s death may not have been a suicide.

Rapoport alleges a number of inconsistencies: There was no suicide note; there were no fingerprints on the .357-caliber handgun Lissa supposedly shot herself with; keys she would have had to use to remove the gun from its locked cabinet were not found; no ballistic tests were conducted to verify that the handgun was the actual weapon used; gunpowder residue tests were never completed; portions of the autopsy were never made public; key alibis were never evaluated by authorities.

If it was a murder, who did it? Rapoport doesn’t make any specific allegations. However, cuckold George IV, who remarried within months of his wife’s death, certainly emerges as a suspicious character.

Information about the book ($17.95 in paperback) can be obtained by phoning Rapoport’s RDR Books at 510-595-0595 or visiting its Web site at www.rdrbooks.com.

Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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