Professor charged with sexual molestation

Spinnaker

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The Spinnaker received an anonymous tip Sept. 8 concerning the May 20 arrest of a tenured UNF professor who was charged with sexual battery with a female minor, according to a Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office police report.Police arrested Dr. Arturo J. Sanchez-Ruiz, 51, a UNF computer science professor, at his Downtown residence and charged him with two cases of sexual battery with a minor between the ages of 12 and 18, according to the police report.

According to the police report, police responded to a call May 19 made by a man close with the victim. Upon JSO’s arrival, the man told JSO he had received a call from another person close to the victim. That person said they needed to talk about the victim who he or she believed was having sexually explicit conversations over the Internet. Sexually explicit messages were found on the victim’s iPod, the police report said. However, iPods don’t have that functionality.

The victim admitted to the messages, and the man close to the victim asked if she has been sexually active and if anyone has touched her inappropriately.

According to the report, the victim initially denied, but when asked again, she said Sanchez had touched her inappropriately, which prompted the man to call the police.

According to the report, the victim told police Sanchez touched her in her private areas on several occasions. The victim said there had also been “digital penetration” and oral sex performed.

After the interview, according to the police report, JSO contacted Sanchez at his residence, and he agreed to speak with a detective working on the case. Sanchez denied the allegations. He was arrested and transported to Jacksonville’s pretrial detention facility.

As a result of his arrest, Sanchez has taken a leave of absence. Prior to his arrest, he served on the UNF Graduate Committee and is responsible for coordinating the new program concentration in software engineering.

Sanchez’s attorney, Richard Selinger, told the Spinnaker Sept. 9 his client is not guilty of the charges, and as soon as they return to court Oct. 10, the charges will be dropped.

According to Sanchez’s dossier, he came to UNF in 2000 after five years of post Ph.D. experience in tenure-earning positions with the University Central of Venezuela and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

An individual normally will be considered for tenure during the sixth year in which he or she holds a tenure-earning position at UNF. Sanchez was awarded tenure at UNF during spring 2004 after only four years as an assistant professor on account of his previous tenure credit.

His colleagues strongly encouraged his promotion to associate professor, according to several memorandums they wrote to the University Promotion and Tenure Committee. Such colleagues include Dr. Neal Coulter, dean of the UNF College of Computing, Engineering and Construction; and Dr. Judith Solano, chairperson of the UNF Department of Computer and Information Sciences.

Several of Sanchez’s colleagues were contacted for comment, but all said due the fact that the case is still pending, they would be unable to comment.

UNF’s general council associate, Marcus Snow, said the university knew of the arrest immediately but did not make an effort to publicize it, considering its sensitivity and severity.

“If he is found guilty, it is very unlikely he would be able to return here based upon the charges that are filed against him,” Snow said.

Snow said UNF knows as much as what the police report entails, and until the trial, its assumption regarding disciplinary action against Sanchez remains premature.