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Pasadena public health director resigns after controversial sermons

After online sermons criticizing homosexuality, evolution, Pasadena's health director resigns
Doctor and Seventh-day Adventist preacher resigns as Pasadena's public health director

After controversial sermons prompted Pasadena officials to place him on paid leave, public health director Dr. Eric Walsh has resigned, effective immediately, officials said Wednesday. 

City Manager Michael Beck placed Walsh on temporary paid leave two weeks ago and launched an investigation after city officials discovered online videos of Walsh criticizing homosexuality, calling the founder of Islam a satanist and calling evolution a "religion of Satan."

Walsh, a Seventh-day Adventist preacher, withdrew as Pasadena City College's commencement speaker after the videos were publicized by students. Walsh cited a scheduling conflict as his reason for withdrawing, and he was replaced by openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

Walsh also is being considered for a position with the Georgia Department of Public Health. He intervewed for a public health director job about a week ago and did not mention his controversial sermons or that he was on paid leave, said Ryan Deal, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

Georgia public health officials offered him the job this week, but they discovered his sermons during a final background check and will continue their investigation, they said. The headlines about Walsh have "caused some concerns," Deal said.

"It is paramount that the person ultimately hired for this job come equipped with the knowledge, skill set and sensitivities to our very diverse north Georgia population," Deal said.

Beck and Walsh met Wednesday morning to discuss his employment status, after which Walsh submitted his resignation. Pasadena officials would not comment on the reason for Walsh's resignation because it is a personnel matter, said spokesman William Boyer.

“We appreciate Dr. Walsh’s service to the City of Pasadena and wish him continued success,” City Manager Beck said in a statement. 

The city will launch a nationwide search for a new public health director, Beck added.

Walsh addressed the employees of the public health department via a statement that Beck read during an afternoon staff meeting.

"I want to apologize for any hurt or disruption that these past few weeks have caused," Walsh said. "I am more than confident in each member of our department's ability to continue the progress and success we have had over the past 3.5 years. My time with the department has been a highlight of my career."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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