GW counseling professor Eugene Walter Kelly Jr. pleaded no contest to two felony molestation charges in Virginia late last month and received a three-year suspended sentence.
Kelly, 62, maintains his innocence and entered an Alford plea of no contest, meaning he pleaded no contest to speed up the trial but did not admit guilt, said his attorney Andrew Sacks of Norfolk, Va., who spoke on Kelly’s behalf.
Kelly is a former dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and is currently a professor in the school. He was accused by his former wife and stepchildren last year of molesting the children 25 years ago.
GW administrators are still compiling facts in an attempt to determine an appropriate course of action, said Mike Freedman, GW’s director of public affairs.
Kelly has agreed to take an administrative leave – an absence from classroom instruction – while the University conducts its investigation of the case, Freedman said.
“He had an exemplary record both as a professor and as a dean,” he said.
Freedman said he was unsure when the University would reach a final decision on Kelly’s future.
Sacks said he has seen “scores of letters” from GW faculty and students attesting to Kelly’s talents as a teacher and his personal decency. Sacks said he hopes GW administrators choose to maintain Kelly’s tenure.
Kelly’s no contest plea was a move he considered to be in the best interest of his current wife, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, and his 10-year-old son, who has a congenital liver defect and is awaiting a transplant, Sacks said.
The alleged sexual abuse began in 1972 when the stepdaughter was 12 years old and the stepson was 14, and continued for four years, a police detective told The Virginian-Pilot.
Kelly’s ex-wife, Betty, who asked to be referred to only by her first name in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot, said she divorced him in 1980 when her children told her of the alleged abuse.
In 1995, Kelly sent a Christmas card to Betty’s grandchildren saying he was eager to become acquainted with them, she said in the interview.
Kelly’s stepdaughter told a Virginian-Pilot reporter she feared a relationship between Kelly and her children could lead to further sexual abuse, prompting the family to come forward 25 years after the initial abuse.
“No matter what may have happened 25 years ago, at some point it becomes ludicrous to hold someone accountable for things that might have happened, especially when the person has led an honorable life since then,” Sacks said.
Prosecutor Bob Dautrich was unavailable for comment.