HARRISBURG, Pa. – A former school board member who denied saying creationism should be taught alongside evolution in high school biology classes changed his story Thursday after being confronted in court with TV news footage of him making such comments.
William Buckingham (search) explained that he "misspoke" during the TV interview.
Buckingham's testimony came in the fifth week of testimony in a lawsuit filed by eight families who are challenging the Dover Area School District's policy that students hear a statement about intelligent design in biology classes.
Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex it must have been created by some kind of higher intelligence. Critics of intelligent design (search) say it is a clever repackaging of the biblical story of creation and thus violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Earlier in Thursday's court session, Buckingham claimed he had been misquoted in stories from two newspapers that reported he advocated the teaching of creationism to counterbalance the biology textbook's material on evolution.
But the plaintiffs' lawyers confronted Buckingham with a 2004 interview he gave to WPMT-TV in York.
"It's OK to teach Darwin (search)," he said in the interview, "but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism."
Asked to explain in court, Buckingham said that he felt "ambushed" by the camera crew as he walked to his car.
"I had it in my mind to make sure not to talk about creationism. I had it on my mind. I was like a deer in the headlights. I misspoke," he said.
When plaintiffs' lawyer Stephen Harvey noted the similarity of the newspaper reports to what he told the TV crew, Buckingham replied, "That doesn't mean it's accurate."
The writer of one of the articles that Buckingham said misquoted him testified Thursday that her story was accurate. The other reporter was expected to take the stand Friday.
A federal judge is hearing the case without a jury. The trial began Sept. 26 and could last through early November.