By Ashley Day, Kirsten Raper & Eric Wise — Editor-In-Chief, News Editor, Assistant News Editor
Updated at 12:38 p.m. on 12/4/2017: Two UTC employees are now on paid administrative leave after they were given citations for public indecency charges.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing Chuck Cantrell and Coordinator for Veteran Student Services Joe Wiram were both issued misdemeanor citations for public indecency on Sunday, Dec. 3.
The Chattanooga Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit made an undercover visit to Cinema One, located at 4100 Rossville Blvd, on Nov. 3 after receiving complaints from citizens about sexual activity occurring in the theater, according to court documents. The undercover officer observed Cantrell and Wiram engaged in a sex act.
Cantrell appeared at the Hamilton County Jail on Sunday for processing, and Wiram appeared for processing on Monday. Both men have court dates set for Jan. 2.
UTC’s Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing, George Heddleston, said that the university is aware of the incident and currently reviewing it. He said the university was made aware of the situation prior to this weekend and that both Cantrell and Wiram were placed on administrative leave yesterday.
“The timeline is indefinite because we have more evaluation to do based on what we learned from the legal report,” he said.
Cantrell currently teaches a Media Writing 1 class at the university, although according to some students, he hasn’t held class since Nov. 20, even though the last day of classes for the university is Dec. 4.
Lauren Piersall, a sophomore from Chattanooga, is in Cantrell’s class this semester. She said she received an email from Cantrell that said class would be cancelled for the remainder of the semester and that future assignments would be submitted through email.
“I’m just super shocked because this is a guy who is supposed to teach us about being professional in the media, and he did the most unprofessional thing imaginable and it reflects really bad on the school,” she said.
Piersall also said that she emailed Jack Zibluk, the department head of Communication, because she and a few others from Cantrell’s class are now worried about how the rest of the semester will play out.
Zibluk said that at this point, he will meet with Cantrell’s class, which takes place today at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re working with the class to make sure that they will have the best possible educational experience [despite] what has happened. We’re doing everything to minimize the effect of this incident on [the students].”
Ultimately Zibluk said this incident is a “teachable moment,” for the university.
“This is a lesson not just for faculty and staff, but for students. These days your personal life can easily become public,” Zibluk said. “And when these things become public, it can ruin every other aspect of your life.”
Chuck Cantrell has worked for UTC for over 25 years and is most well-known for the emails that he sends out to all UTC students, faculty and staff. Joe Wiram is in charge of UTC’s Student Veterans Services and Student Veterans Organization.
The University Echo reached out to both Cantrell and Wiram, and has not heard back from either.
We will update this story as more information becomes available.