Friday, April 20, 2018

Dr. David B. Dickerson: The UNA Rapist?

In 2006, long time Maryland senator Paul Sarbanes had decided to retire, and 28 individuals entered the race for the coveted spot. Among the Democratic candidates was Dr. David B. Dickerson whose age was listed as 43 and whose occupation was identified as engineer. Dickerson ultimately came out ninth in the Democratic field, but not before his campaign provided voters with quite a bit of drama.
In 2003, Dickerson was traveling on business in Latvia where he met a 16 year old girl, a girl who was 24 years his junior. Dickerson officially stated that the relationship didn’t begin until Anna was 18, but by 2006 the two were married and living in Sparks, Maryland.
Then during the fateful 2006 campaign, Anna accused her husband of assault. Specifically, the young Latvian woman stated her husband held her against her will in their apartment, denied her food, and repeatedly raped her. David Dickerson countered that his wife was mentally ill. He was officially charged with second-degree rape, fourth-degree sex offense, and misdemeanor second-degree assault. In Maryland, second degree rape indicates a rape without excess violence or where the victim was drugged or otherwise incapacitated.
The charges were dropped after Dickerson’s attorneys pointed out what they called inconsistencies in Anna’s account of the alleged assaults. By this point, Anna Dickerson had a protection from abuse order against her husband, but it was David Dickerson who had his wife arrested for trespassing when she attempted to visit him at his parents’ home in Richmond, Virginia.
David Dickerson told the press that the whole affair was a “Romeo and Juliet” type scenario and showed he could take the strain of politics. Never mind that Juliet was just 13 and that it’s widely presumed Romeo was only 16. Dickerson received just under 4K of the Maryland Democratic vote or .67 of one percent.
Perhaps the saddest part of this sordid tale is that David and Anna Dickerson had a child who was three months-old at the time of the alleged rapes. What happened to the infant after the dissolution of the marriage? David Dickerson sent it to live in Latvia with Anna’s mother.

David Braxton Dickerson PhD first came to the University of North Alabama as a visiting professor in September 2015. From the university’s press release:

Dr. David Dickerson has recently joined the College of Business as a Visiting Professor of Marketing & Global Business. He brings with him vast global experience as a former executive at Motorola GmbH and SONY, where he spearheaded business development and research in emerging markets throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, India, Vietnam, Ukraine, Russia and Central Asia. He most recently lived and worked in Kazakhstan.

His degrees include a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School (UK); a Master of Administrative Science in Information Technology Management from The Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School; and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Loyola University, Sellinger, S.J., School of Business.

His expertise is in cross-cultural marketing strategy and global sales. He is happy to be in Florence, and shares the vision of reconciling regional values with the need to expand upon global awareness. “The reason why I chose UNA,” he says. “Is because I see it as a golden opportunity to expand the international business and global program, which is my background.”

Now Dickerson, 54 in 2017, was accused of assaulting, then raping a student he took on an academic trip to Orlando, Florida, in November 2015. Specifically the female student, then 19, alleged Dickerson doctored her drink with a date rape drug. It later emerged that Dickerson had been accused of assault and rape at a previous position and that UNA had not done due diligence in initiating a standard background check.

Dickerson left the university at the end of his contract and began teaching in Colorado at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, an institution with an enrollment of slightly over 20,000 students. The female student, identified only as Jane Doe, took an “academic leave.” Her suit named both Dickerson and the university which she says failed to take even a statement from her and never notified the police. 

Dr. Jerome Gafford is the director of the University of North Alabama’s Center for Professional Selling. In the fall of 2015, Gafford was scheduled to help chaperon/oversee a student trip to Orlando, Florida, for what a lawsuit calls a UNA sponsored Intern Sales Conference/Competition. For whatever reason, Gafford was unable to attend, and Dr. David Dickerson was left as the only UNA employee to oversee the group of four young people. The group included a 19 year-old junior who was taking Dickerson’s class in sales, a class that only he taught.

The young woman and her attorneys Rodney Slusher and Terrinell Lyons allege in a suit against the university that Dickerson joined her while she was swimming in the hotel pool, where he began to touch and grope her. She further states she left the pool for the nearby hot tub where others were present. Dickerson then followed her and again began to touch her against her will. The marketing student then states that she left the area completely, returning to her room.

Later the same day, Dickerson allegedly followed the the victim and another female UNA student to a Universal theme park, where he picked them up and returned them to their hotel. He proceeded to take them to dinner where the second student left the group, stating she would soon return. The young woman failed to come back, and “Jane Doe” states she began to feel odd. Dickerson then assisted her back to the hotel where the rape reportedly took place.

Once back in Florence, the two young men who had attended the Florida conference told Dr. Jerome Gafford of the incident. Gafford then informed Dr. Jana Beaver, head of the marketing department, who contacted the alleged victim. Beaver instructed Doe to stay away from classes and the downtown Florence area where she might be apt to encounter Dickerson. According to the lawsuit, it was during this time that Dr. Jerome Gafford informed Jane Doe that the university had not performed a background check on Dickerson.

Jane Doe then sought help from university mental health counselor Jennifer Berry, who recommended a medical leave for the student. Vice President David Shields needed to sign off on Berry’s recommendation, but refused to do so. He instead instructed the victim to take an academic leave.

Some months into the leave, Jane Doe received the following message from David Dickerson:

“It has been over six months since we spoke, so I am sorry. Much to my dismay, I was compelled by UNA not to speak with anyone! What crazy, stupid and parochial minded people. Either way, I just want to say that aside from childish behavior, I command (sic) a great respect for you, and will be happy now to keep in touch with you! Friends forever! Feel free to contact me! Your friend, David.”

At the time of the assault, Dr. Kenneth Kitts was president of the university and Dr. David Shields was Vice President of Student Affairs. The university initially refused to comment on the suit. 

Then the institution issued a brief statement, allegedly written by either Kitts or Shields, in which the accuser was blamed. It was taken off line a few days later and replaced with a more moderate statement, but not before several students marched in protest and spoke at a rally at Harrison Plaza. 

The whole episode took an even more bizarre turn when the now unemployed David Dickerson sued the university. 

Former University of North Alabama visiting professor David B. Dickerson filed a complaint with the state Board of Adjusters in which he asked for almost seven million dollars. Dickerson specifically felt the Kenneth Kitts answer to a lawsuit against the university defamed him. Shortly after the lawsuit by a former female student of Dickerson came to light, he lost his then current teaching position in Colorado.

Dickerson is pictured above when he ran for Congress from Maryland. Below is a photo as he appears today.

Dickerson’s claim came to light just as Kitts asked the state legislature for more funding. UNA is also facing lawsuits by at least one current employee on the grounds of a civil rights violation.

As of the date of this publication, neither lawsuit has been settled.

Information taken from PNS articles previously published...