Police report details alleged Liberty University professor sexual assault that victim called ‘frightening’

William Atwell, 58, has been charged with two crimes

New information has surfaced regarding a Liberty University professor police say sexually harassed a student.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – New information has surfaced regarding a Liberty University professor police say sexually harassed a student.

On December 1, Liberty University suspended 58-year-old William Atwell, an associate professor who taught American Sign Language courses, after he was charged with felony abduction by force/intimidation and misdemeanor sexual battery.

Now, the Liberty University Police Department has released a redacted police report detailing the incident. The student’s name and certain portions of the report have been removed to protect the victim’s privacy.

[READ MORE: Liberty University students ‘disturbed’ after professor was charged with sexual battery, kidnapping]

The report shows that on November 19 at about 6 p.m., police received an email containing a harassment complaint from a student who said that at about 4 p.m. that same day, Atwell harassed her while she was alone with him inside DeMoss Hall.

The report reveals that at first, the victim was in the office with Atwell and another unnamed person; however, as she and the other person were leaving, Atwell said goodbye to the other person but told her to come into his office.

Once the unnamed person left, Atwell then reached over to hug the victim in an “inappropriate manner,” according to the report.

The student also told authorities that he groped her butt and breast during the encounter, all of which made her uncomfortable.

According to authorities, when she pulled away, Atwell stopped her by putting his arms around her and placing his chin onto her left shoulder.

The police report shows that Atwell mumbled incoherent things in her ear and she could feel his “groin pressed to her butt.”

The victim said the encounter was frightening.

The day after the reported incident, campus police arrested Atwell, who was released on a $3,000 bond nine days later.

On December 1 at about 11 a.m., the student gave a copy of her Preliminary Protective Protective Order against Atwell to the Liberty University Police Department, which was in effect until December 6 at 2:30 p.m., according to the police report.

Atwell’s court date is slated for Jan. 25, 2022.

When 10 News learned of Atwell’s arrest last month and reached to Liberty University for a statement, we received the following statement:

“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

See the full police report below:

About the Author:

Jazmine Otey joined the 10 News team in February 2021.