Evangelical Taylor University Admits It Kept Professor Despite Student‘s Kissing Complaint

Evangelical Taylor University Admits It Kept Professor Despite Student‘s Kissing Complaint

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Sign up By , Christian Post Reporter | Jul 19, 2018 7:46 AM (Screengrab: YouTube/Taylor University)Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.

Taylor University, a Liberal Arts Christian College in Indiana, revealed last week that it knew of a sexual misconduct complaint filed 14 years ago by a female student against one of its renowned professors, but only disciplined and cautioned him, allowing him to continue working at the institution.

As  reported on Monday, the incident dates back 14 years ago at the evangelical institution, where Dennis E. Hensley, who built its professional writing program, was accused by a female student of kissing her without her consent shortly after she revealed that she had been raped.

Hensley denies the claim and all sexual misconduct accusations, including that he inappropriately touched other women.

A statement last week by  on the situation came as Hensley resigned from his position following new allegations, attempting to explain the timeline of events.

“Fourteen years ago (2004), a complaint was filed against Dennis Hensley by a student. Although the investigation at that time yielded conflicting stories, Hensley was disciplined and cautioned,” it wrote.

“During the next 14 years, two potential conduct concerns came to the university‘s attention, neither of which involved students or were related to the 2004 complaint. Hensley was confronted in both of these situations and disciplined.”

The statement explains that the university was recently made aware of “significant and credible allegations of serious misconduct by Hensley.”

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“Although these allegations did not involve Taylor students or employees, we promptly commenced an investigation, which included interviews and statements from those involved, and subsequently informed Hensley that he was suspended with immediate effect while the investigation was ongoing,” it continued.

“On the same day that he was notified of his suspension, Hensley offered an unsolicited and unconditional resignation from Taylor University, which we accepted.”

The Christian institution insisted that it‘s “guided by biblical principles of truth, justice and grace,” and it‘s “grieved by any instance of predatory behavior or abuse of power.”

“We hold accountable each member of our community with the expectation they adhere to the highest ethical, behavioral, and moral standards. We are committed to providing an environment of dignity, respect and safety for all members of our community,” it concluded.

The Inside Higher Ed report gave information about the specific nature of the student‘s complaint 14 years ago, with the incident occurring in a closed-door meeting.

The student, identified as Rachel Custer, allegedly told Hensley that she had been raped hours before, and as he attempted to console her, the professor hugged her, kissed her face, and then her mouth, without her giving him consent.

Custer, who was 23 at the time, said that she had been excited to work with Hensley, as he had a strong reputation as a mentor and an author, and felt that she could trust him.

She says that after Hensley kissed her, she pulled away and asked him, “Don‘t you have a wife?” Hensley apparently said that his wife had been diagnosed with lupus, and that he had not ‘held a woman for a long time,‘ after which he kissed her again. Later he would tell her to keep what had happened as their “little secret,” she claimed.

“It‘s just hard to explain how much this messed with me,” Custer said. “After the situation I‘d been through, I thought I was in a place that was completely safe.”

Hensley, now 69, denied that he kissed the student, and said that he had wanted to be supportive and consoling.

“I was trying to be gracious. I was trying to be comforting. I meant nothing in the way of any harm to her,” the professor said. “Now this is coming out 14 years later, with this whole ‘Me Too‘ kind of thing, and everyone is piling on the bandwagon.”

He said that what actually happened is that he touched Custer‘s shoulders and briefly embraced her after she told him that she had been raped, but denied ever kissing her.

“She was totally in shock — she doesn‘t remember the situation the way it was,” Hensley insisted.

As for the newest accusations that he made inappropriate remarks or touched participants at his writers‘ conferences, he said that what happens is that sometimes attendees hold his hand and pray or hug hum when reading their stories.

“I‘ve always been outgoing, but in this era, that has been described going too far,” he said.

He added: “I regret that we‘ve come to that, that we‘ve gotten to that point. I don‘t want to hold hands when we‘re praying, or return a hug, so I think it‘s an interpretation of what‘s going on in the media.”

Hensley separately told  that his resignation is more akin to retiring.

“I thought I should just take the high ground and retire, and just call it quits and let this thing die its own death,” he said.</p

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