TTR News Center

Professor under fire for posting racist and sexist tweets will not be fired: Indiana University

No Comments

iStock(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) — Indiana University has announced that it will offer alternative courses and “double-blind grading” in an effort to quell students’ concerns amid reports that a business school professor repeatedly used his social media accounts to espouse “racist, sexist and homophobic views.”

Lauren Robel, the university’s executive vice president and provost, said in a scathing statement posted on the school’s website Wednesday that the views expressed online by tenured professor Eric Rasmusen, who teaches in the Kelley School of Business, were “stunningly ignorant, more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st.”

In her statement, Robel said Rasmusen shared bigoted views “for many years” via his private social media accounts, including that women don’t belong in the workplace, that gay men shouldn’t be in the classroom because they are promiscuous and that black students are academically inferior to others. She said, however, that he would not be fired, citing his First Amendment rights.

On Nov. 7, a Twitter account belonging to Rasmusen linked to an article titled “Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably.” With the article link, the account tweeted a line from the piece, saying “geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness.”

Robel said that this post “slurring women” and recent others were then “picked up by a person with a heavily followed Twitter account” and shared on social media, sparking a firestorm on campus among the students, staff and faculty.

“Various officials at Indiana University have been inundated in the last few days with demands that he be fired. We cannot, nor would we, fire Professor Rasmusen for his posts as a private citizen, as vile and stupid as they are, because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids us to do so,” she said. “All of us are free to condemn views that we find reprehensible, and to do so as vehemently and publicly as Professor Rasmusen expresses his views. … I condemn, in the strongest terms, Professor Rasmusen’s views on race, gender and sexuality, and I think others should condemn them. But my strong disagreement with his views — indeed, the fact that I find them loathsome — is not a reason for Indiana University to violate the Constitution of the United States.”

She assured students that they would not be forced to take Rasmusen’s classes and that they would be provided alternatives. According to the school’s website, Rasmusen, who has taught at the business school since 1992, is a professor of business economics and public policy as well as an adjunct professor of economics.

Robel said that Rasmusen would also use “double-blind grading on assignments,” meaning the student would not be identified, and that if double-blind grading could be not be used, the Kelley School would have another faculty member “ensure that the grades are not subject to Professor Rasmusen’s prejudices.”

“If other steps are needed to protect our students or colleagues from bigoted actions, Indiana University will take them,” she said.

In an email to students and faculty of the business school Wednesday, Dean Idie Kesner echoed Robel’s sentiments, calling the remarks and beliefs tweeted by Rasmusen “reprehensible,” “hurtful” and “abhorrent.”

“While his stated opinions are at odds with our individual values and beliefs and those of our institution, we cannot prohibit his freedom of expression in his private social media accounts. This does not mean that we are powerless to take actions that prevent bias against students, other faculty members or staff,” Kesner said. “Indiana University and the Kelley School are committed to our ethical responsibility to provide a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. … We will take all necessary steps to ensure that students will not be harmed by the biases that could underlie the judgment of this professor.”

The dean also assured students that the business school would review Rasmusen’s courses “for the influence of bias.”

On Wednesday, Rasmusen accused the university of “encouraging” bias in a comment to the university newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student.

“To show students that they need not fear bias in grading, the university is condemning a dissident professor, requiring him to use blind grading and allowing students to opt-out of his class,” Rasmusen said, according to the newspaper. “Having seen the university crack down on the one outspoken conservative professor, students will feel more comfortable in expressing their views while at Indiana University. That is, they will know what to expect if they speak freely in the classes of the 999 liberal professors. Of course, IU is not discouraging bias, but encouraging it, even requiring it, as a condition of teaching. There are views you’re not supposed to express, even outside of class, and heaven help the student whose professor checks his twitter account before issuing grades.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Boston College student charged in boyfriend's suicide to be arraigned

No Comments

iStock (BOSTON) — A former Boston College student charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with her boyfriend’s suicide will be arraigned Friday in a Boston court, prosecutors said.

The arraignment would be Inyoung You’s first court appearance since she was charged in the death of her boyfriend, Alexander Urtula.

You, 21, returned to South Korea, where she’s from, sometime after his death.

Prosecutors have alleged that she was “physically, verbally and psychologically abusive” toward Urtula during their 18-month “tumultuous” relationship.

Prosecutors said they were hopeful You would return on her own accord, but added that they’d attempt to extradite her if she did not.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to ABC News when asked whether You was extradited or returned voluntarily.

Her arraignment is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Suffolk Superior Court, said District Attorney Rachael Rollins.

You allegedly was present when Urtula jumped to his death from the roof of a parking garage in Roxbury on May 20 — the same day he was set to walk in his Boston College graduation ceremony, Rollins said previously.

A spokesman for the Urtula family said they’re grateful for the work of the district attorney’s office.

“Since losing Alexander in May, the Urtula family and everyone who loved Alex has been devastated by his loss,” the spokesman, David Guarino, said in a statement to ABC News. “Not a minute of any day goes by without those who loved Alex grieving and continually feeling the sharp pain of his passing all over again.”

The public relations firm representing You did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Suspect in disappearance of Aniah Blanchard ordered to take DNA test

No Comments

iStock(AUBURN, Ala.) — The suspect charged with kidnapping 19-year-old Aniah Blanchard, the stepdaughter of UFC heavyweight fighter Walt Harris, has been ordered by a judge to take a DNA test, according to reports.

Blanchard was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama, on Oct. 23. Surveillance video from inside the convenience store showed both Yazeed and Blanchrad inside at the same time, and a witness outside the store said he saw Yazeed force her into her car, according to an arrest affidavit.

The witness who saw Blanchard being forced into her car told police that he cried after not immediately telling police about the encounter, saying his girlfriend told him not to get involved, Mixon said.

Yazeed was arrested on Nov. 7 in Escambia County, Florida, and was extradited back to Alabama. He is charged with kidnapping in the first degree, a designation that includes the intent to inflict physical injury.

When he was arrested in Pensacola, Yazeed allegedly admitted to authorities that it was him in the surveillance video but requested legal counsel after, prosecutors said in court, ABC Birmingham affiliate WBMA-TV reported.

It was also revealed in court that a man had driven Yazeed from Montgomery to Pensacola, according to the station.

Blanchard’s vehicle, a black 2017 Honda CRV, was found on Oct. 25 near an apartment complex in Montgomery, Alabama, about 50 miles away from the convenience store. She was reported missing by her family the day before.

Blood evidence “indicative of someone suffering a life-threatening injury” was found on the passenger side of vehicle, according to the arrest affidavit. The blood was confirmed to be Blanchard’s.

At the time of Yazeed’s arrest, he was out of jail on $60,000 bond. Bush denied a request from Yazeed’s defense attorney to grant Yazeed bail as well as a request to have prosecutors disclose the identity of the witness.

Yazeed has 26 prior arrest, prosecutors said in court, according to WBMA-TV.

Yazeed’s attorney, Elijah Beaver, declined to comment on the case to ABC News, citing a gag order imposed by the court.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Manhunt underway for boyfriend accused of killing Connecticut nightclub owner

No Comments

iStock(WATERBURY, Conn.) — A manhunt is underway for the boyfriend of a beloved Waterbury, Connecticut, nightclub owner whose body was discovered in a wooded area almost 10 miles away from her business and home, police said.

Eight days after Janet Avalo-Alvarez was last seen by her friends, family and co-workers on Nov. 12, investigators from the Waterbury Police Department confirmed the “worst nightmare, fears of the family, friends,” Lt. David Silverio said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Authorities were lead to an area near Wolcott Road and Route 69 in Wolcott, Connecticut, on Tuesday. They found a body and turned it over to the city’s medical examiner.

An autopsy revealed the body was Avalo-Alvarez’s and that she had been killed by “neck compression,” Silverio said.

“We are going through a lot of pain,” Grisela Guirreio, a family friend, said to ABC Hartford, Connecticut, affiliate WTNH-TV at a candlelight vigil Wednesday evening.

Police said Avalo-Alvarez, 26, owner of the La Guakara Taina Bar on East Main Street, worried her family with “unusual” behavior on Nov. 13 when she left her car parked behind the club, abruptly stopped communicating with her loved ones and wasn’t posting on social media.

During the search for Avalo-Alvarez, her live-in boyfriend and business partner Alfredo Esmerli Peguero-Gomez fled the state, police said. His car was found Nov. 15 in a parking lot at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, police said in a Nov. 18 statement.

Peguero-Gomez is a dual citizen of the United States and Dominican Republic.

“Mr. Alfredo Peguero-Gomez is a suspect in the homicide of Ms. Janet Avalo-Alvarez. It is an open an active investigation,” Silverio said in an email to ABC News on Thursday.

Phone calls made by ABC News to Peguero-Gomez were not successful.

The couple had no history of domestic incidents, but their relationship was described by friends and co-workers as “being up and down, and they argued frequently about personal matters and business issues,” Silverio said.

“The detectives are working with U.S. Marshals Service to locate Mr. Peguero-Gomez,” Silverio said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Houston officers arrested on federal charges connected to botched drug raid that killed 2

No Comments

iStock(HOUSTON) – Two former Houston police officers involved in a botched drug raid that killed a married couple earlier this year have been arrested on federal charges, according to authorities.

The neighbor who called 911 has been arrested as well, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced during a news conference Wednesday.

On Jan. 28, 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, her husband, 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle, and a pit bull in the home were shot and killed on Harding Street in southeast Houston when police carried out a search warrant on the home. Four police officers were also shot and wounded in the raid.

A subsequent investigation later revealed that one of the narcotics officers who was shot, 54-year-old Gerald Goines, allegedly lied to obtain a no-knock warrant for the raid. The investigation also claimed that the confidential informant who Goines said conducted two drug purchases of black tar heroin at the home never went to the house, according to an affidavit filed in Harris County District Court in February.

Goines was federally charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations and tampering with a witness, victim or informant.

He was previously charged with two counts of murder in the couple’s deaths by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

In the wake of the botched raid, the police department ended the practice of no-knock warrants and opened up 1,400 criminal cases associated with Goines to review.

Another former Houston police officer, Steven Bryant, was also federally charged with destruction, alteration or falsification of records. He was previously charged in Harris County with tampering with a government record under state law.

Prosecutors claim Bryant submitted a document containing false information that drugs were found in the home two days after the raid happened, ABC Houston station KTRK-TV reported, citing court documents. Prosecutors allege that Bryant retrieved heroin from Goines’ car on Jan. 30 and wrote that the drugs were evidence found during the raid, according to the station.

Bryant allegedly later admitted the “mistake” to investigators and stated that he never participated in the narcotics investigation at the home, KTRK-TV reported, per the court documents.

The woman who lived across the street from the couple, 53-year-old Patricia Garcia, has also been arrested and federally charged with providing false information for allegedly making several fake 911 calls, Acevedo said. Police had previously stated that the raid stemmed from numerous complaints from neighbors.

All three were arrested Wednesday by the FBI and were being held at the FBI’s Houston field office, Acevedo said.

Attorneys for Goines, Bryant and Garcia did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.

Goines’ attorney, Nicole DeBorde, told KTRK-TV she believes he was overcharged.

“I firmly believe that Mr. Goines is innocent of any crime and we look forward to defending this case vigorously in court,” DeBorde told the station.

Bryant’s attorney, Andy Drumheller, told KTRK-TV his client is facing a “tough situation,” but said Bryant “was not involved in drafting the search warrant, never entered the home and never fired a weapon.”

Friends of the victims told KTRK-TV they were not the hardcore heroin dealers they were described to be in the falsified search warrants.

The attorney representing the Nicholas family, Michael Patrick Doyle, said in a statement that the family hopes justice “will be expedited by the FBI’s actions.”

“The investigation of the rogue Harding Street raid and the Houston Police Department must continue as far and wide as necessary,” Doyle said. “If city officials continue to refuse to disclose what happened in these HPD killings, we hope federal authorities will do so. The federal indictments confirm the breadth and depth of the lies told to justify the raid before and after the death of Rhogena Nicholas.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: