Former KSU professor pleads guilty to felony charge


Willie Harrell, left, and his new attorney Scott Rilley, right, in Summit County’s Court of Common Pleas on Monday, May 2, 2016. 

Alex Delaney-Gesing

Former Kent State associate professor Willie Harrell pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor at the Summit County Common Pleas Court Monday.

Harrell, 45, will be sentenced on a felony charge of importuning on Sept. 26, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. He will be labeled as a Tier 1 sex offender.

The former English professor was arrested last August after meeting with a 15-year-old boy in a car in the parking lot of Smith Elementary School in Akron.

Harrell had met the boy online and intended to pursue a sexual relationship with the adolescent, according to police.

Kent State terminated Harrell’s contract following his arrest. He taught at the university since 2003.

His initial plea last September was not guilty to importuning and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. 

Harrell attempted to flee the country last November to avoid facing prosecution in court, but was caught at the Canadian border. He disappeared following the attempt, and was labeled a fugitive.

In March, authorities located Harrell in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, and extradited him to Akron.

Harrell has now been charged with two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of importuning and two counts of violation of adult curfew. 

Pending his sentence, Harrell faces up to a year in jail, according to the Beacon.

Contact Alex Delaney-Gesing at [email protected].