Michael Ehlert, associate professor of psychology at the University of Guam, was indicted yesterday by a Superior Court of Guam grand jury.
Ehlert was indicted on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct as a second-degree felony, five counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct as a misdemeanor, and three counts of official misconduct as a misdemeanor.
According to the indictment, Ehlert is charged with forceful or coercive sexual touching of the private parts of two women, ages 21 and 25. The alleged events took place on Oct. 31, 2014.
Ehlert is to appear before Superior Court of Guam Judge Alberto Tolentino on Jan. 20 at 8:30 a.m. at the Northern Court Satellite to answer to the charges.
Ehlert, 54, was suspended from the University of Guam for alleged unwanted sexual advances toward students, but was to return to the university this spring after a semester-long sabbatical. However, this may not push through after the indictment.
UOG President Robert Underwood said Ehlert had been suspended in February 2015 after an internal investigation regarding an off-campus incident involving two female students in November 2014.
In February 2015, Ehlert was suspended for three months without pay and was prevented from teaching during the summer. However, Ehlert had arranged a year prior for a sabbatical during that time, allowing him to go off-island for the fall 2015 semester. According to Underwood, Ehlert will be paid during his sabbatical albeit at half his normal pay for the semester, as is standard for faculty sabbaticals.
Underwood said the women, who are UOG students, alerted the university about Ehlert’s alleged actions after going to the police. According to Jonas Macapinlac, director of integrated marketing relations at UOG, the university immediately removed Ehlert from the classroom and placed him on administrative leave.
An internal investigation was conducted between November 2014 and February 2015, when Ehlert was suspended. Underwood said extensive interviews were conducted as part of the investigation. He added that an external consultant was hired to help with the investigation. According to Underwood, Ehlert had never before been investigated for sexual misconduct.
Ron McNinch, professor at the School of Business and Public Administration, had circulated an email about enacting policies banning romantic and sexual relationships between faculty and students.
The email expressed disapproval for the “egregious” behavior conducted by male faculty toward students. Underwood said any changes would need the support of the faculty body. “It’s not solely a decision of mine or the board of regents. … To some extent a lot of faculty have to buy into (the changes),” Underwood said.