A Liberty University professor is accused of the abduction and sexual battery of a student, according to court records.
Late last month, William Atwell was arrested on charges of sexual battery and abduction by force. He was released on bail and is due in court on Jan. 25.
According to court records, Atwell is accused of a sexual battery incident in September and then an abduction by force in November.
The Liberty University website no longer has a profile of Atwell, but a remaining page on the site showed that he was a professor of American Sign Language in the modern languages department, NBC News reports.
Atwell did not respond to requests for comment, and a statement from the university said he had been suspended from the college.
“Liberty University takes nothing more seriously than claims that a faculty member has had inappropriate sexual contact with one of our students, something for which there is zero tolerance,” a university spokesperson said.
“With the student’s consent, the university turned the matter over to the appropriate legal authorities, and the faculty member in question was arrested.”
In October, ProPublica published a report saying that more than 50 former Liberty students and staff members claimed that Liberty University boasted a culture in which leaders discourage women from reporting sexual assault.
Many students said they were dismissed or threatened when they tried to come forward with reports of sexual abuse and rape.
The women in the report told ProPublica that many of the men accused in the attacks did not face any consequences.
In July, 12 former Liberty students and employees filed a lawsuit against the school, saying the honor code makes it “difficult or impossible” for students to report sexual violence. The school has not countered the suit, but Liberty President Jerry Provo said in a statement during the summer that the allegations would be “deeply troubling if they turn out to be true.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.