UNA: Former professor violated policies, was banned from campus

UNA: Former professor violated policies, was banned from campus

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - The University of North Alabama is finally revealing what they did after learning of sexual abuse allegations involving a student and professor.

A former student identified as Jane Doe is suing the University of North Alabama over an alleged Title IX violation after an incident on a school trip involving former professor David Dickerson. The lawsuit states the school did not properly investigate the sexual assault claim.

Jane Doe claims the sexual abuse happened over a weekend trip for a International Collegiate Sales Competition in Orlando Florida.

According to federal court documents, school officials say they did not find out about the incident until a student who was not on the trip told a professor. UNA officials say they tried to interview everyone on the trip after Thanksgiving break.

Multiple staff members agreed David Dickerson a visiting associate professor at the time violated the universities student-staff relationship policy.
The university ultimately took employment action against him. UNA President Kenneth Kitts had the final say whether to fire him on the spot or pay out the rest of his contract. Court documents reveal Kitts was concerned Dickerson would demand a process hearing which would risk exposing Jane Doe.

The university paid Dickerson through the end of his contract, resulting in $50,000.

The investigation lead to an order of no contact by Dickerson to the four students on the trip then a few days later he was told his contract would not be renewed and that he was banned from campus.

Text messages in the court documents reveal Jane Doe alerted a dean about a Christmas party Dickerson was having with students a local bar. A text from the victim to a professor also stated he  also tried contacting Jane Doe on her through Linked in.

In the university's initial public statement concerning the lawsuit, the school questioned the lack of criminal charges in the case stating:

Earlier this week, a former University of North Alabama student, identified as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit accusing a former professor of sexual assault, and accusing UNA of violations under Title IX. The University vehemently disputes the allegations in Jane Doe's lawsuit. UNA will vigorously defend against those claims in litigation.

A short time later the university revised the response and released this statement:

The University of North Alabama is committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students. The University has a professional and well-trained staff that addresses claims of sexual misconduct with the utmost seriousness.  Students impacted by sexual misconduct are provided strong resources and excellent support.

Dickerson worked for Metro State University in Denver after leaving UNA. WAFF 48 News alerted Metro State to the allegations in Alabama. He is no longer employed at Metro State.

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