Tarleton State Professor's Bizarre Resignation

October 21, 2015

Tarleton State University, in Stephenville, Texas, says that it followed proper procedures in the events leading up to the resignation of Jeff William Justice, a former assistant professor of social science accused of performing a self-mutilation-based ritual in front of students. “Tarleton’s highest priority is the welfare of our students,” Cecilia Jacobs, a university spokeswoman, said via email. “These allegations were taken seriously and an investigation was promptly launched, during which time Dr. Justice was placed on administrative leave. In the midst of the investigation, Dr. Justice offered his resignation and it was accepted.”

The university had no additional comment on the allegations, but Inside Higher Ed obtained a campus police report. It is based on a complaint from a single student who says that Justice invited several students to his home and drank alcohol with them before complaining that he was sore from hanging by spikes in his chest from a tree branch in order to pray to the sun. He allegedly hung from the tree twice before the students left. The student who filed the complaint allegedly returned at a later date at Justice’s prompting, out of fear it would it affect his class grade if he did not. The student said he got scared and left, then talked to his father, who helped him report it to campus police in May.

Justice, who is no longer at Tarleton, could not immediately be reached for comment. The event was first reported by the Texan News Service, Tarleton's student newspaper. In a statement from Justice posted to the newspaper’s website, Justice denied giving alcohol to minors, but said he had attempted to harm himself in front of students due to severe depression, for which he is seeking treatment.

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