The BGSU Firelands professor accused of threatening his colleague pleaded innocent Thursday, maintaining he never meant harm.
Donald Pryor, 36, adjunct professor of biology and chemistry, said through his attorney that the e-mail he sent to science faculty member Christine Genovese a week ago was simply his way of venting and not intended as a threat.
Pryor was arrested while leaving campus April 19 and charged with telecommunications harassment. He was taken to the Erie County Jail, where he was later released on $5,000 bond and ordered to stay off the Firelands campus and away from Genovese. He was also required to successfully complete a mental evaluation.
Pryor hired Sandusky-based lawyer Loretta Riddle of the Donald Harris Law Firm. She explained Thursday that she entered a plea of "not guilty" to the Huron Municipal Court via fax. Since Pryor's charge is listed as a first-degree misdemeanor, she said he didn't have to appear in court.
Riddle expressed concerns that the heavy publicity of the case overshadows some of the facts her client wants to come to light.
"He has no criminal record at all and is a little shaken by all of the media attention," she said. "He has never been charged with anything before."
Although she has not read the entirety of the e-mail, Riddle explained that she has not been privy to any information so far that her client intended to harm himself or others.
"I have read where he passed the mental evaluation stating he was not a threat to himself or others and seemed remorseful after the event," she said. "If that is the case, I wonder why he got charged with anything?"
Deputy Jeff Hippely of the Erie County Sheriff's office is assigned to the Firelands campus. He reviewed the alleged threatening e-mail with Genovese and Mark Charville, the school's director of budget and operations.
The alleged e-mail stated in part, "May God punish my enemies since I can't. ...no money and no power. Which power is ... I know I shouldn't say this ... but exactly what I seek. I will go with my gut vibe and say go f*** yourself."
His investigation also revealed Pryor had been reported as "acting strangely lately and had been asked to leave buildings on campus late at night on several occasions recently, including one night that he was asked to leave at 3:30 a.m. as the campus policy is that everyone should be out by 11 p.m."
Riddle said her client did not dispute having late hours, but was merely preparing for classes and nothing else.
"He has told me that no one informed him that it was a problem he was keeping late hours," Riddle said. "He told me that he was working on Power Point presentations and other projects for his classes he was teaching."
Genovese told Hippely and Charville that Pryor had spoken with her on Wednesday and she ended up teaching his class. After the class, she sent him an e-mail detailing changes she wanted made to the class. She stated that she has had problems with Pryor in the past. School officials said they did not plan to rehire him after this semester.
An upper level biology and chemistry professor have taken over Pryor's classes. Genovese continues teaching her regular classes and has declined to comment.
Pryor's pre-trial is scheduled for May 11.