BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — A university has suspended a professor after erotic stories were included in a batch of computer files he returned to the state Department of Transportation at the end of a research project.
Alan Atalah, a construction management professor at Bowling Green State University, was suspended “effective immediately” on release of a state watchdog’s report on the matter Tuesday, university spokesman Dave Kielmeyer said.
Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer determined Atalah violated university policy by having the material on his work computer.
Based on a probe that began in September 2015, state investigators determined that Atalah included a file containing the sexually explicit stories on a USB drive he returned to the state after a project he’d been working on was terminated. By doing so, they said, he had “accessed and disseminated erotic literature using state equipment.”
According to the report, a Transportation Department program administrator found seven pages of narrative “that described sex acts involving adults, children and animals.” More erotic stories were later found on his laptop, along with evidence of deleted stories and erotic videos.
A call Wednesday to a phone number listed under Atalah’s name in nearby Perrysburg indicated the number is disconnected.
Under questioning by investigators, Atalah suggested that he didn’t write the sexually explicit stories but sometimes read them for entertainment.
“Is it possible that I copied it and put it in, it’s possible, I probably did that a few times,” Atalah told them.
The report said he added, “Everybody has personal stuff . I don’t do anything that is illegal. I don’t consider this illegal . For me it’s just entertainment for a short period of time or entertainment for whatever.”
In a follow-up email, Atalah told investigators he hadn’t read the original story in question until after he talked with them. He said when he tried to read the story he “was sickened” by its contents.
Federal authorities determined Atalah’s actions didn’t amount to a crime. A local prosecutor is reviewing the matter.
The university said it is withholding further comment as it reviews the findings. Its formal response is due within 60 days.