CSUF professor ordered to pay student for damaged car

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An electric vehicle spot, much like the one where the kicking incident occurred.
(Dominique Villamor / Daily Titan)

John Short, Cal State Fullerton professor of theatre and dance, was ordered to pay a CSUF student $3,246.44 on Sept. 12 for intentionally damaging the student’s Nissan Altima “in a fit of anger” over the student illegally parking her car in a electric vehicle-only spot, according to Orange County Superior Court documents.

“I personally feel that I did not do any damage to her car. I’m probably going to appeal the decision,” Short said of the small claims court decision.

Brittney Rangel, biology major, said she parked in the EV spot March 5 because she has a disability placard and thought she was allowed to park there. The space was close to the Office of Disability Support Services, where she was scheduled to take an exam.

“It was a really close distance. I didn’t have to walk very far and that was really important that day because I was taking an exam. I was in pain,” Rangel said.

(Dominique Villamor/ Daily Titan)

A CSUF police report describes what allegedly happened that day in the parking lot located near Mihaylo Hall at one of the electric vehicle charging dock stations: A University Police officer was dispatched to the scene regarding possible vandalism. A witness told the officer he saw Short kick the rear of the Nissan Altima.

When Rangel returned to her car, the officer told her the car was illegally parked and someone may have damaged it. The officer asked her to locate any new damages and she pointed to two different areas: one on the bumper and another on the trunk. The officer asked if she wanted to prosecute for the damages and she said yes, according to the police report.

Short said on that day he waited 55 minutes for the space to charge his electric vehicle.

“I had a class to teach. I also had a double hernia, so I wasn’t feeling very well and driving was difficult for me,” Short said. “I just kind of lost it for a minute. I said, ‘I wish I could just take this car and push it out of here.’ I put my foot on the back and I shoved her car.”

According to the police report, Short kicked the car twice. Short said he shoved the car once but denies “kicking” the car.

“This is incredibly out of character for me. All you have to do is talk to any of my students. I’m very highly thought of in this department and on campus,” Short said. “I am sorry for it, but my record is spotless. It was a regrettable five seconds on my part.”

Since the incident, Rangel said she feels unsafe at school and worries about other people’s safety as well.

“I didn’t want to go to court. I really didn’t,” Rangel said. “It was just really stressful.

University Police have forwarded the case involving Short to human resources for investigation, said University Police Capt. Scot Willey. The police do not get a copy of the investigation results, he said.

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