Former UNA professor named in student sexual assault lawsuit faced prior rape charge

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- WHNT News 19 has learned more about a prior rape allegation contained in a lawsuit filed by a University of North Alabama student who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a UNA professor on a university-sponsored trip in 2015.

The professor identified in the lawsuit is former UNA marketing and global business professor David Dickerson. UNA has denied the former student’s claims that the university covered up and failed to investigate the alleged assault.

UNA did acknowledge the professor violated university policy regarding “faculty/student relationships” and said he no longer works at the university.

But UNA has not addressed another allegation in the lawsuit: that Dickerson was previously charged with rape and assault of a 19-year-old woman, and was still hired by UNA.

WHNT News 19’s review of the claim found that while Dickerson was running as a Democrat for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland in 2006, he was charged with rape and assault by his 19-year-old wife.  She alleged Dickerson held her down, struck her and forced her to have sex, according to a Washington Post story from July 2006.

The Post’s story includes comments by Dickerson’s attorney Craig Kadish about the Dickersons’ relationship. Dickerson’s wife was from Latvia, where she met Dickerson when she was 16, the Post reported.

Kadish told the Post,  “He said, 'Call me when you're 18.’”

The Post reported Dickerson’s attorney also adamantly denied the charges against Dickerson.

About three weeks after the charges were filed, they were dropped.

Prosecutors told the Washington Post there were inconsistencies in Dickerson’s wife’s story.

Dickerson told the Post he had no doubt he’d be cleared.

Police later arrested his wife for violating a restraining order that Dickerson took out against her. The Post quotes Dickerson as saying, "I don't know what to call it. Do you call it a Romeo and Juliet story?"

Dickerson remained in the U.S. Senate primary, but lost, receiving less than 1 percent of the vote in a crowded field.

His background includes study in international relations, information systems and marketing.

UNA’s website includes an announcement of Dickerson’s hiring in September 2015.

The UNA student alleges she was sexually assaulted by Dickerson in November 2015, on a business-school sponsored trip to Orlando.

UNA has disputed the woman’s account and said it can find no record of criminal charges against Dickerson stemming from the alleged assault in Orlando.

The university issued a second statement on the lawsuit Sunday, two days after an aggressive denial of the student’s claims. In the second statement, the school said the professor did violate policy.

“Upon notice of the alleged misconduct, the University reached out to the student and conducted an investigation,’ the statement reads, in part. “The University concluded that, in the fall of 2015 the faculty member had violated University policy regarding faculty/student relationships. As a result, the faculty member was removed from the classroom and ordered to stay away from campus and to avoid contact with students.  The faculty member is no longer employed by the University.”

The lawsuit alleges Dickerson was allowed to finish out his contract.

He was hired by Metropolitan State University Denver last year and headed their international business program, a Metropolitan State University spokesman told WHNT News 19.

He was listed on Aug. 1 as a tenure-track professor.

But last week Metropolitan State said it was investigating allegations in the student’s UNA lawsuit.

The Metropolitan State University spokesman told WHNT News 19 Thursday that as of Aug. 15, Dickerson was no longer employed by the school.