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Candidate Rips NBC Coverage of Aristotle U, Calls Ex-Student a Liar

Xanthi Gionis said allegations against the Carlsbad school she founded are "horrifically false."

Updated at 6 p.m. Feb. 9, 2013

Republican state Senate candidate Xanthi Gionis said Thursday that recent allegations against Aristotle University are “horrifically false” and “politically motivated.”

In a 20-minute press conference, Gionis responded to an NBC San Diego report that found the university she created in 2006 wasn’t certified with the state Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education and lacked a business license in the city of Carlsbad.

She slammed what she called “reckless reporting" by NBC San Diego, which she called “an alleged investigative report that is full of erroneous, easily verifiable information.”

Thursday night, NBC7’s vice president of news responded to a Patch inquiry via email.

“We stand by our story,” said Greg Dawson, the NBC news chief.

Jacob O’Neill, campaign manager for Democratic rival Ben Hueso, would not address Gionis’ hints of manipulation, but said Friday via email: “The only thing I would say is that ‘Mr.  Hueso is 100 percent committed to running a positive and successful campaign.’”

Gionis told reporters at San Diego City Hall that the Aristotle law school was certified with BPPVE until April 2012. Gionis said the city of Carlsbad also didn’t require the school to have a business license in 2006 and changed its laws recently because of “political pressures.”

But Thursday night, NBC San Diego noted that its story focused on the unaccredited and unlicensed Aristotle School of Public Health, whose students allege they attended classes once a week and were threatened with deportation if they didn’t pay tuition on time.

The BBB also gave the university an F rating for lack of accreditation.

“It would be counterintuitive to believe that we prepaid our lease for one year in the amount of some $30,000 only to attempt to avoid a city business license for a cost of approximately $100,” she said.

“Furthermore, let it be known that contrary to news reports, between 2007 and 2010, Aristotle University operated three law schools which were fully registered with the State Bar of [California] and our graduates were eligible for licensure to practice law in the state.”

She also said a former student, Albert Anarwat, who spoke out against the school, is a “very skilled liar.” Anarwat told NBC San Diego the school scammed him out of thousands of dollars and recruited him from Ghana. 

Gionis said Anarwat, who attempted to earn his masters, “remains in the U.S. in violation of the requirements of his student visa” and “was dismissed from Aristotle University as a result of his failure to attend classes on a regular basis.”

“Mr. Anarwat’s dishonesty goes beyond the bounds of human decency,” she said. 

She also claimed that Anarwat came to the school from Michigan, not directly from Ghana as reported by NBC San Diego. When Anarwat was “dismissed” from the school, the university terminated his visa, Gionis said.

“Mr. Anarwat, a liar and unstable individual, remains in the United States and is working illegally,” she said.

Gionis said her students have also been “harassed” by reporters and one student also “broke down in front of fellow students after a Channel 7 NBC reporter attempted to interrupt their classes last Monday.”

Other students, who allegedly were sent hundreds of text messages by unspecified individuals*, have changed their cell phone numbers, Gionis said.

“The students of Aristotle University have been harassed by individuals of the press and individuals with the intention of interfering with the contractual relations of the university,” she said. “Many of the students have reported being pressured by outside forces to make false allegation against the university.”

Gionis said she felt the need to hold a press conference because it was “important” to address the allegations. 

“It is important this day for me to stand up for my former and current students, as I would in Sacramento as a representative of my constituency. Before I begin addressing the accusations, I would like to say that the allegations made against me are clearly politically motivated and the subject of reckless reporting,” she said, urging voters to remember her on March 12.

“I believe very strongly in my heart that both my students and the public deserve better and that is why I am here today.”

In 2011 and 2012, Gionis was sued seven times in San Diego Superior Court, resulting in at least one small-claims judgment against her, online records show.

The court ordered Gionis to pay former Aristotle University teacher Karin Tausan $7,648, which Tausan told NBC San Diego were for loans to Gionis’ campaign.

Last November, Judge John Meyer in San Diego Superior Court dismissed a case involving a $30,000 suit by Pacifica Health and Medical after an out-of-court settlement between that nursing-services provider and Gionis.

Gionis is running in a special election against Democratic Assemblyman Ben Hueso and fellow Republican Hector Gastelum to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Juan Vargas, who won election to Congress in the district once served by Bob Filner.

She also ran for Congress in the 51st district and was endorsed by the local Republican Party. She lives in Chula Vista, according to online records.

After reading a nearly 2,000-word statement, Gionis answered few questions and hurried away into the Civic Center Plaza building while still wearing a small NBC microphone. 

She surrendered the wireless microphone after several shouted reminders.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that NBC San Diego sent students hundreds of text messages. The source of the text messages wasn’t specified by Gionis.

Libi Uremovic February 08, 2013 at 01:45 PM
i'm not very impressed by the way she handled the situation...she should have showed documentation to verify her position and showed some responsibility for having a disgruntle student instead of calling him a liar and an illegal... here theory that this is all politically motivated is ridiculous ... she's a nobody that's never won an election, held a political office, nor does she have any chance of winning vargas' old seat... she's no threat to any other candidate - gop or dem.....
Libi Uremovic February 08, 2013 at 01:49 PM
we've got to work on getting some decent people in politics....the younger generation isn't being trained or encouraged to take over... ...and the old and boomers won't admit they are failures and step aside....
Adjunct Noise February 08, 2013 at 02:17 PM
She owes salary to at least two professors who taught at the 'university' and has disgruntled students popping out of the woodwork. Voters, you do the math. She is anything but honest and fair.
Smiley ShakeANDwink February 08, 2013 at 10:19 PM
LACK OF ACCREDITATION=WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY. Get an education from an ACCREDITED University or your diploma won't be worth the paper it's printed on in the REAL WORLD. You would be much better off in the military, or joining an apprenticeship.
Ed Sorrels February 08, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Said it once and here it is again, She is a damn carpetbagger financed by the republicans to get a foot in the door here in southbay. And bye the bye she is also either a very poor business woman or a liar, You Choose, I already have!
TomMullen February 08, 2013 at 10:51 PM
what a crook. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go to JAIL!
roberto m February 09, 2013 at 12:19 PM
is not thru. xanthi gionis is a good person and she have a good intensions.
Adjunct Noise February 09, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Oh, its true alright. I spoke with two of the professors yesterday. Both worked at different times and both were bilked by her.
Adjunct Noise February 09, 2013 at 02:52 PM
More students speak out: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/investigations/Aristotle-University-Students-Speak-to-Immigration-Attorney-Ginger-Jacobs-190497101.html
rodney sumpter February 09, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Sounds like criminal behavior to me--and the woman's intemperate remarks do not show any signs of intelligence or competence.
rodney sumpter February 09, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Your grammar speaks volumes about your ability to judge one's intentions and lack of honesty. You are clueless!
rodney sumpter February 09, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Another Republican Reptile trying to fleece the ignorant foreign students! Send her packing and shut down the so-called "school."
rodney sumpter February 09, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Any right-wing looney tune is a "threat" to honest government...join the Tea Party, drink the Kool-Aid and follow the dictums of the all-mighty O'Reilly, Rove and Rand cabal.
rodney sumpter February 09, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Here here! Toss her and her cronies out of Carlsbad and clean up the beach! She has a lot of nerve (and no brains) to try to run for office. But then, there are thousands across our nation who are doing the same thing--and many get elected. A sorry state of affairs....
Smiley ShakeANDwink February 09, 2013 at 08:17 PM
I believe you're right on all counts here. This is 100x worse than selling a fake rolex, considering the pricetag of these students time and money!
martin vta February 09, 2013 at 10:50 PM
es muy facil hablar y hablar mal de una persona, y mas la gente que escribe y escribe queriendo llenar la pagina de tantas mensadas, lo que aqui cuenta es que xanthi hablara con pruebas. si se quieren lucir hagan su propia pagina quieren ganar fama acosta de los demas, y no hay problema sigan llenando la pagina asi nos damos cuenta que le tienen mucho coraje ha xanthi y es su oportunidad para poder desaogarse jajajajajaaj.
Hap Onot May 10, 2013 at 05:14 PM
California is a major source of these fraudulent degrees. The problem is, many in our state government have used these degrees for jobs, salary advancement and promotions. They are very reluctant to crack down on any but the most flagrant of the violators.

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