Former Marketing professor Scott Ward was fired from Penn immediately following his arrest for importing child pornography in August - but if he had been teaching at another university, he might still be on the faculty.
Penn made the decision to terminate Ward's employment immediately after his most recent arrest. He still awaits trial and has not been convicted, but the arrest was his third for sex charges involving minors.
Ward is currently being held without bail in Alexandria, Va. He was arrested upon his return from a trip to Brazil, when authorities say they found videos allegedly showing him engaging in sex acts with teenage boys. Soon after the charge was made, President Amy Gutmann announced that Ward would no longer teach at the University.
Ward faces additional charges in Pennsylvania due to similar video allegedly found in his Huntsman Hall office.
But "innocent until proven guilty" appears to be the law of the land for many schools dealing with high-profile faculty misconduct issues.
At Kansas State University, professor Thomas Murray was arrested in October 2004 for allegedly killing his wife, but he continued to teach at Kansas State after his arrest, according to spokeswoman Cheryl May.
"Because every citizen is innocent until proven guilty, Thomas Murray was not removed from the payroll until after his conviction," May said.
Murray was found guilty of murder in March 2005, after which he was immediately fired.
Ohio State University took a similar approach when marketing professor Roger Blackwell was indicted for insider trading in August 2004.
Ohio State spokeswoman AmyMurray described him as "one of the star faculty members . a marketing guru."
Ohio State also assumed that Blackwell was innocent until proven guilty, Murray said.
Blackwell was convicted the following summer, and resigned his teaching post immediately.
At Claremont McKenna College in California, psychology professor Kerri Dunn was convicted of falsely reporting that her car had been vandalized and spray-painted with racist slurs in August 2004.
The college placed Dunn on paid leave until her contract ended, said spokeswoman Evie Lazzarino.
After Dunn was convicted, her contract was not renewed.
Ward's case is different in that he had been charged twice before for similar run-ins with the law involving young boys, and even sentenced on one occasion, though he was not exactly found guilty due to an unusual plea.
In 1995, Ward was acquitted of charges that he paid a teenage boy for sex on dozens of occasions.
In another instance in 1999, he was forced to pay $2,500 and to serve five years of probation. He entered a plea that did not admit guilt, but acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence to convict him on charges of sexual misconduct. The plea was evidently not deemed enough to justify a firing.
Deputy Provost Janice Bellace, who handles faculty disciplinary issues, told The Daily Pennsylvanian earlier this fall that "just cause" must be established through several committees before any dismissal occurs.
Major infractions of University behavioral standards that can lead to dismissal include "serious crimes such as, but not limited to, murder or rape," according to the Faculty and Academic Administrators Handbook.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.