HARRISBURG -- In the month of June 2004, at least six newspaper articles mentioning Dover Area school board member William Buckingham were published in The York Dispatch, but he never read them.

Several stories had also been published in the York Daily Record, but again Buckingham never read them -- even though he received both newspapers at his home, he testified yesterday in U.S. Middle District court.

He said he doesn't "believe a darned thing they print."

The newspaper subscriptions were left over from when Buckingham's dad was still alive and living at his home. He would read the obituaries, and maybe check out how the Philadelphia Phillies were doing, he said.

"They (the newspapers) came, but I didn't read them."

On June 8, 2004, he was featured on the front page, the first person named in a story sprawled across The York Dispatch.

On June 9, 2004, he was mentioned on the front page of the local section of The York Dispatch. The story said Buckingham's school board could face a lawsuit because he and other board members said they wanted to teach creationism alongside evolution. On that day, the obituaries were sandwiched between the beginning and the ending of that story, but he testified he never read the story.

Disputes papers' accounts: More than a year after that story was published, Buckingham was in a witness stand in front of attorney Steve Harvey with the Pepper Hamilton law firm, who represents parents who sued the district and say intelligent design is akin to creationism.


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Harvey -- who looked skeptical throughout much of the testimony -- pointed out that the newspapers were "... delivered to your door every day ..." when Buckingham repeatedly said he didn't read news reports about the Dover school board.

In two depositions given by Buckingham in preparation for the case, Buckingham said people had told him there were stories about him in the newspapers, but they never told him what they were about.

But yesterday, he testified that people told him the stories mentioned creationism.

He said he never used the word "creationism," to introduce an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution.

Other school board members never said creationism either, Buckingham testified, but the newspapers used the word anyway.

"It's just another instance where we would say intelligent design and they would print creationism," he said. "It happened all the time."

Video shows statement: But then Harvey started rolling a video from an interview Buckingham gave to local television station Fox 43.

On a large screen, a newscast showed Buckingham standing in front of a building, wearing the trademark cross and American flag lapel pin he had worn to board meetings. Birds chirped in the background.

"My opinion ... it's OK to teach Darwin, but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism," he said on the tape.

"Now, that's basically the same statement that was reported in the newspapers," Harvey said.

But Buckingham testified that his own statement wasn't accurate, either.

He recalled that he was walking to his car when television reporters made him feel "like I was ambushed."

Buckingham said he had creationism on his mind because he knew there were media reports that the board wanted to teach creationism.

He said he was "like a deer in the headlights of the car."

He wasn't used to all of the media attention, but he was "trying to be the nice guy" and gave them an interview even though he felt "pressured," he said.

But he "concentrated so hard on not saying creationism" that he accidentally said creationism, he testified.

"You didn't look like you were very pressured to me," Harvey said.

He suggested that Buckingham said "creationism" because he meant "creationism."

"Absolutely not," Buckingham said.

Discrepancies in testimony: Harvey also questioned Buckingham about other discrepancies between his depositions and later testimony.

In his depositions, Buckingham said he didn't know who was responsible for about 60 intelligent design books that were donated to the school district.

But Buckingham testified yesterday that people from his church donated $850 toward purchase of the book, called "Of Pandas and People."

The book was later added to the biology curriculum.

Harvey said Buckingham lied in the deposition because he didn't want people to know donations came from his church.

Buckingham, who lived in Dover for 28 years and has three grown children who graduated from Dover, moved to North Carolina several months after parents filed the lawsuit.

Citing health problems, he also resigned from the board.

Didn't, then did, remember: Harvey questioned Buckingham about why he didn't remember saying that the high school biology book was "laced with Darwinism," a comment he later said he remembered making.

Buckingham said the discrepancy was probably due to the fact that the comment was made about the time he "came out of treatment" for an addiction to OxyContin painkillers he was taking for his back.

"I was still going through withdrawal from that, and things were kind of foggy," he said.

Buckingham entered a treatment facility in February 2004 and returned to the board March 1, 2004. He sought treatment again in December 2004.

A few months later, Buckingham introduced the board members to the Discovery Institute, the largest organization supporting intelligent design research.

Buckingham testified that he also initiated contact with the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan-based law firm that says it specializes in defending the rights of Christians.

An attorney there told him about the book "Of Pandas and People."

The firm had offered to defend the school board if it was sued over intelligent design, Buckingham testified.

The Thomas More Law Center is currently defending the school district and its board for free.

Thomas More attorney Pat Gillen briefly questioned Buckingham when Harvey was finished.

Gillen tried to establish that Buckingham did not believe intelligent design was religion or creationism.

"We were doing it (adding intelligent design to the curriculum) for the students to give them an alternative scientific theory to go along with their biology class," Buckingham testified. "We thought we were doing something good for them."

Talked of monkeys: Buckingham testified that he believes in a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, and he does remember "expressing a concern that origins of life were taught to the point that man descended from monkeys."

Common descent, or the idea that people evolved from common ancestors, contradicts the story of creation in Genesis.

He testified that he remembers telling one resident to "trace your roots to the monkey you came from."

And several witnesses have testified that they heard Buckingham make the religious comments that were reported when the board was discussing biology curriculum last June.

But Buckingham testified he couldn't remember making some of the comments. And he said other comments -- such as a reference to the crucifixion of Christ and comment about "the country" being founded on Christianity -- were made at a meeting in 2003, not when discussing the biology curriculum.

He testified that he had said the separation of church and state was a "myth," but not in the context in which reporters had written.

Buckingham testified that most of the content of stories written by The York Dispatch free-lance reporter Heidi Bernhard-Bubb and York Daily Record free-lance reporter Joseph Maldonado were not accurate.

The two covered school board meetings for the competing newspapers while the board was discussing the biology curriculum.

Bernhard-Bubb took the stand after Buckingham yesterday, testifying that the stories she wrote were accurate.

Bernhard-Bubb was scheduled to continue testifying this morning, followed by Maldonado.

Continued testimony from assistant superintendent Michael Baksa is also expected.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5434 or ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.