BELLEVUE — The Bellevue Police Department is investigating former Mercer Island City Council candidate Joy Langley’s claim of having a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.
Seth Tyler, public information officer for BPD, confirmed that police are investigating Langley’s claim to have earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy after studying at the school. Tyler could not comment on the case as it is still an open investigation.
Cmdr. Jeff Magnan of the Mercer Island Police Department said the department passed the investigation to Bellevue police to avoid impropriety.
“We made the decision so there was no actual or perceived impropriety,” he said. “It ends up being cleaner on our end.”
Langley would not comment regarding the BPD investigation and put the Reporter in contact with her attorney. The attorney had not yet responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.
Langley, who ran for a council position in the 2017 election, came under scrutiny after the opposition’s supporters called into question her candidate statement, which claimed she had earned a degree from Cornell. Langley previously told the Reporter her degree could not be independently verified through avenues such as the National Student Clearinghouse, as she chose to keep her student records private because she was allegedly stalked while she said she attended Cornell.
The Reporter could not verify that Langley received a degree from Cornell.
As of Nov. 6, 2017, Langley maintained that she graduated from the university in 2004, but John Carberry, the school’s senior director of media relations, wrote that they cannot find a record of her enrollment.
“After receiving numerous inquiries and speaking directly with Ms. Langley, Cornell University re-examined its digital and paper archives, at the university and college level, and can confirm that we have no record of a person named Joy Langley or Joy Esther Langley attending or graduating from this institution,” Carberry wrote in an email to the Reporter in a previous report. “We can also confirm that the Office of the University Registrar has never received a request to make private any records related to Ms. Langley.”
Campaign fliers that endorsed Langley stated she “got dual degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from Cornell.” However, only her political science degree from Ithaca College was verified. In addition, Langley has a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University that was also verified.
Ithaca offers an exchange program with Cornell, but Langley said in previous reports that she earned degrees from both institutions. She added that she cut the Ithaca degree from her candidate statement due to word count restrictions.
Langley provided a photocopy of her diploma to the Reporter on Oct. 26, 2017, and brought in what she claimed was her framed diploma to the Reporter’s office on Nov. 6, 2017.
She said she earned a Cornell diploma “after a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” in previous interviews with the Reporter.
“I don’t know what else to do,” Langley said in a previous report. “It seems like I disappeared; it doesn’t make sense to me. I was handed a diploma on the 30th of May [in 2004]. The only thing I can chalk it up to is the university must have lost my materials.”
The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell’s student newspaper, reported on Nov. 4, 2017 that Langley was not in the 2004 yearbook, but that “there is a Joy Esther Langley listed as an alumna in Cornell’s people search.”
Valerie Cross Dorn, associate university counsel at Cornell, wrote to Langley’s attorney on Nov. 6, 2017.
“We undertook a diligent investigation before Mr. Carberry made his statement, which included searches of University records and direct communications with [Langley],” Dorn wrote. “She was requested to provide the name of her advisor at Cornell, the names of any courses she took, a copy of any Cornell transcript she has, a legible copy of the diploma she identifies as having been issued by Cornell, or any other evidence she may have to document her enrollment at Cornell, and she provided none of the requested information.”
Dorn wrote that if Langley could provide any of that information, “the university is certainly willing to undertake a further search of university records.” Until then, they “stand by the statement as issued.”
The Reporter will update this story as more information becomes available.
This story was first published in the Mercer Island Reporter.