Liberty University professor facing charges after accused of ‘inappropriate sexual contact’ with student

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

William Atwell was arrested by Liberty University Police on Nov. 20, 2021 for sexual battery and abduction charges. (Photo: Courtesy Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A Liberty University professor is out on bond after being arrested in late November for sexual battery and kidnapping charges following an incident involving a student.

The Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority says that 58-year-old William Atwell was arrested on Nov. 20 by Liberty University Police in connection with an incident on Sept. 15.

According to the Lynchburg General District Court, Atwell was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and felony abduction by force, deception, etc. without justification.

However, officials say he was released from the Lynchburg Adult Detention Center on a $3,000 bond on Monday, Nov. 29.

Atwell is listed as an associate professor of American Sign Language on the the Liberty University website, but a university spokesperson told WFXR News that Atwell has been suspended.

The university shared the following statement with WFXR News on Wednesday, Dec. 1 with regards to Atwell:

“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.  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.  The faculty member has also been suspended by the university pending the outcome of this matter.  To protect the integrity of investigation and the privacy of the student, we will limit further comment.”

Liberty University spokesperson

According to the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, Atwell is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 25, 2022.

This news comes as Liberty University faces multiple lawsuits involving sexual misconduct claims, including one filed in late November by a current student-athlete.

That “Jane Doe” is not only suing a former student who reportedly used alcohol and drugs to commit date rape in October 2020, but also the university because they “deterred the Plaintiff from taking proper steps to pursue her perpetrator, shifted the focus onto Plaintiff’s consumption of alcohol and allowed her rapist to graduate unscathed,” according to her lawsuit.

There is also multi-plaintiff lawsuit with complaints from 22 people — including current students — accusing the school of creating a campus environment that increases the likelihood of sexual assault and rape.

In addition, Scott Lamb, former Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Engagement for Liberty University, sued the school in October, claiming he was fired as “retaliation for his opposition to the University’s mishandling of Title IX sexual misconduct accusations.”

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) also released statements in November, urging the Department of Education launch a federal investigation into the university.

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