University of Virginia Dean Charged

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey
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July 14, 2006

A respected dean at the University of Virginia has been put on administrative leave after he signed a diversion agreement with federal prosecutors. Rick Turner, Dean of African American Affairs at the University of Virginia, signed papers on Friday that say he can avoid a Federal trial in the case against him.

According to the Federal documents that he signed yesterday, "on or about July 19, 2005, in the Western Judicial District of Virginia, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration, [Turner] knowingly and willfully made a false material representation in that [he] misrepresented his knowledge of the activities of a known drug dealer."

"Oh I'm shocked! I'm shocked and that's why I want to hear more before I do any judging at all." That's how Dena Bowers, civil rights activist and former colleague to Turner, reacted to hearing of the charges brought against him.

It's still unclear what Turner's exact relationship with the drug dealer was and upon learning that he had entered into the diversion agreement, the University placed him on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

"For all we know he could be trying to protect a student and trying to work with a student behind the scenes, we don't know. I just hope we don't judge, he's done an awful lot of good," Bowers continued.

Turner must now complete a year long diversion program in which he must answer to a probation officer and could even be called to testify against the drug dealer. But in signing the documents Turner admits prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him.

When reporters contacted the attorney whose name is also on the documents as representing Mr. Turner, he did not confirm or deny that Turner was in fact his client.

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