Liberty University professor charged with alleged sexual battery and abduction of student

A Liberty University professor has been charged with sexual battery and abduction of a student at the school, NBC News reported.

William Atwell has been accused of committing sexual battery against a student on Sept. 15, as well as abducting the same student by force or intimidation on Nov. 19, according to Lynchburg General District Court, USA Today reported.

Atwell was arrested by Liberty Campus Police on Nov. 20.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 Liberty University spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

"We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness, care, and concern. With the student’s consent, the university turned the matter over to the appropriate legal authorities and the faculty member in question was arrested. To protect the integrity of investigation and the privacy of the student, we will limit further comment.," the spokesperson added.

The university revealed that it has suspended Atwell pending the outcome of this matter.  

Atwell, an associate professor of American Sign Language, was released from the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center on Monday after posting a $3,000 bond, per the Associated Press. He has a court appearance set for Jan. 25.

His profile had been removed from Liberty's website by Thursday, NBC added.

This incident comes to light two months after more than 50 former students and staffers accused the school of discouraging and dismissing students who came forward with allegations of rape.

They said they were threatened with punishment for breaking the school’s moral code, known as the Liberty Way.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the senators for Liberty's home state, were among the lawmakers who called for an investigation in November into how the school handles instances of sexual abuse.