Kent State professor pleads not guilty to felony charges, posts bond


Harrell Willie Headshot

Matthew Merchant

Willie Harrell, Jr., a Kent State English professor, pled not guilty to two felony charges and posted bond Monday in Akron Municipal Court, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Harrell, 44, was charged Monday with importuning and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor after Akron Police found him with a 15-year-old boy at Smith Elementary School on Friday. He admitted to police that he was attempting to pursue a sexual relationship with the boy. 

The Beacon reported Monday that Harrell also could not afford an attorney after Judge Michael McNulty denied him a court-appointed attorney. 

A second hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday.

The Beacon also reported that computer analysts would search for evidence of other possible criminal activity on desktop and tablet computers and external hard drives found at Harrell’s home.

Harrell reportedly denied comment on Monday, but said he returned home to find a letter from the university notifying him that he was suspended from teaching and the school administration is considering firing him. 

Kent State University issued this statement Thursday from spokesman Eric Mansfield: “University leaders are aware of the arrest, and Professor Harrell has been suspended pending the investigation. He will have no contact with our students, and his courses will be taught by other faculty members.” 

According to the Department of English’s website, Harrell was scheduled to teach the Senior Honors Thesis/Project and Individual Investigation English courses.

He has been at Kent State since 2003.

Contact Matthew Merchant at [email protected]