Student paid to harass associate professor

Joseph Cook

A UPD investigation revealed a student was being paid to send harassing emails to a UNF associate professor.

This incident was first reported in part, in an Oct. 3 Police Beat.

On Sept. 19, a suspicious email was sent to the professor. The sender claimed to be an FBI agent who worked in the Atlanta office, and said they had placed an undercover agent in the professor’s UNF class.

The sender said the undercover agent’s identity could not be revealed, and implied that the undercover agent was there to find out information on her.

The alleged agent, identified as a male, said that he was interested in getting to know the professor, and asked the professor to email him from a non-UNF email address.

Later the same day, the professor received a second email from the alleged agent, apologized for the first email, and asking the professor to provide him a phone number, or agree to a meeting. The sender said he wouldn’t stop until she told him to.

The next day, Sept. 20, the professor met with UPD and provided the emails in question. By request of the UPD, she emailed the alleged agent, telling him she was not interested and did not want him to contact her.

Later that day, the alleged agent emailed a third time, saying, “Just one more thing and I promise I won’t bother you again. Beware of Mr. ———” The redacted name was the professor’s husband.

Forwarding the email to the UPD, the professor stated she was afraid someone was watching her.

On the night of Sept. 22, the professor was at home with her husband when the doorbell rang. Her husband went to the door and saw a silver car driven by a short, black female, who was accompanied by a male.

On Sept. 23, the professor spoke to an officer again, and recalled a conversation she had with a particular student recently was unusual.

A brown-eyed female student came by the professor’s office unannounced, and asked her several questions. The questions related to forensics, what the professor’s Zodiac sign was, and whether the professor had connections in Jacksonville and Atlanta.

Since the identity of brown-eyes was clear, a detective contacted her and asked her to come to the UPD for an interview. She consented and, in a Sept. 24 meeting, was asked specific questions regarding her contact with the professor.

Denying posing as an agent in an email, and denying showing up at the professor’s house, brown-eyes left the interview after being told to not have contact with the professor outside of class.

However, the professor called UPD, advising them that brown-eyes had come by her office and had confronted her about the conversation she’d just had with the UPD.

On Sept. 27, the UPD was told that the first email had been traced, via IP address, to a lab network on campus. University computers save logon and logoff data, so the detectives were able to identify the student that was logged on the computer at the time the emails were sent.

The information showed that brown-eyes was using the computer during the time the first email was sent.

Since the information that the IT department found could only be referred to as circumstantial,  UPD chose to schedule another meeting with brown-eyes.

On Oct. 1, she met with an officer, a detective, and the Dean of Students. She was read her Constitutional Rights, and was told that they had reason to believe she was the one that sent the intimidating and disturbing emails to the professor.

Brown-eyes repeatedly denied sending the emails, and became very emotional, then said she had not been to the professor’s house, and signed a written statement.

The officer told brown-eyes that the issue would be taken seriously by the University, and she could face serious consequences.

He explained that her actions were willful, malicious, purposeless, and had caused the professor substantial emotional distress.

The officer also stated that he was going to seek a subpoena for brown-eyes’ cellular and internet service following the meeting. At this point, brown-eyes agreed to cooperate with the UPD and altered her previous statements. Her new statement was:

“I, [brown-eyes] confessed. It was a joke. I got approached by this student named ——- who had met [the professor] before. He asked can I do something for him so, at first I hesitated but he asked can I get to know her better for him. I asked what I had to do and what will I get. He said he’d pay me just to send an email and once the teacher wrote back, give me her email (personal). He will take it from there. I said ok I’ll send one email. He told me what to say and gave me $100.00. As far as at her home. I was never at her home.”

 Brown-eyes only knew the aforementioned student’s first name, and said she had only seen him once or twice. Brown-eyes did not want to continue with the interview, and it appeared that she was no longer cooperative. At this time the interview ended.

Criminal charges were not filed, as it was decided that the case would be best handled through Student Conduct and the Counseling Center. The case was cleared Oct. 8.

Email Joseph Cook at [email protected]