WCU professor found not gulity of assault

(Editor’s Note: The following story will be updated as Western Carolinian staff continue to look into the investigation of this case and reach out to those involved for an interview.)

UPDATE: Robert Ford was found not guilty on Tuesday of assault on a female. The judge in the case stated that there was not enough evidence to show that the touch the professor made on Gloria Patterson reached the level of assault.

Original article below

Robert Ford, a visiting assistant instructor in the Construction Management department at Western Carolina University, is scheduled to appear in Jackson County District Court on Tuesday, March 1 at 10 a.m. to answer a misdemeanor charge of assault on a female.

According to court documents and a later report by Greenville S.C. CBS affliate WSPA, the charge surfaces around a student, Gloria Patterson, who claims in late August Ford came from behind her during a conversation she was having with another student in a Belk hallway and put his fingers down towards her breast and “squeezed hard”. Patterson was taken aback, and with the student she was having a conversation with, reported the incident to her academic adviser – who sent Patterson to WCU’s Equal Opportunity Director, Dr. Henry Wong.

Patterson shared her story with Wong, who looked into the matter, but according to Patterson, did not let her see the report he compiled and later meetings she had with Wong and the Construction Management department chair led her nowhere.

Feeling unprotected since she continued to have classes in Belk where Construction Management classes are held and Ford teaches, she went to campus police to file a complaint against Ford. She was taken to a Jackson County Magistrate who issued a warrant for Ford’s arrest on a misdemeanor charge of assault on a female.

The warrant states Ford, “did unlawfully and willfully assault and strike Gloria Patterson…by grabbing Gloria on the right collar bone and leaving markings”.

Ford, who has been at Western Carolina for three years and has a salary of $58,000 according to open UNC System payroll records, is currently still employed by the university. Patterson, whose husband Jack is an assistant professor in the same department as Ford, took a medical withdrawal from WCU in the fall because she felt uncomfortable being at Western.