PEORIA — For the second time in one week, a Bradley University professor with authority in his area of study has decided to step down as decade-old allegations of sexual misconduct resurface — but this time, the faculty member will remain in the classroom until the end of the semester.
In Soo Ahn, the current chairman of the electrical and computer engineering department, who has taught at Bradley for 33 years, submitted his intent to resign at the end of the semester on Friday in the wake of an online petition calling for his ouster because of a felony aggravated criminal sexual abuse conviction from 11 years ago.
University spokeswoman Renee Charles initially described the situation this way in an email late Friday afternoon: "As of Nov. 2, 2018, professor Ahn resigned from his tenured faculty position and will retire at the end of this semester after more than 32 years."
Later Friday evening, Charles said Ahn will continue to teach and complete some administrative tasks, such as faculty reviews, through the end of the semester, when he officially will retire.
Ahn, 63, pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexually abusing a 13-year-old family member and successfully completed a sentence of four years of probation, according to Peoria County court records. He was arrested in 2006, as he was going through a divorce.
The conviction on the Class 2 felony requires Ahn to annually update his address and photo on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry, where he is listed as a sexual predator.
The university undertook measures to ensure it was in compliance with all legal requirements for a sex offender working on campus, President Gary Roberts said Friday. Further details can't be released due to personnel policy and privacy law, Roberts added.
"We do everything we can to assure the safety and security of everyone on campus," Roberts said.
In the emailed statement, Charles added: "The Bradley University administration cares deeply about the health, safety, and well-being of its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and all who visit the campus. This is always of paramount importance in all of its decisions.
"Bradley must also respect the legal rights of all associated parties in any given situation. When Bradley’s leadership first became aware of the issue involving professor In Soo Ahn more than 10 years ago, it fully informed itself of all of the relevant facts and circumstances, as well as all relevant legal obligations, including professor Ahn’s contractual rights," Charles continued. "All decisions made at that time, and since, relating to professor Ahn have been mindful of all of these facts, circumstances, and obligations. However, at no time has Bradley made decisions or taken action that created any risk to the safety or security of the campus or anyone on it."
A petition started by students this week on Change.org called on Roberts to terminate Ahn's job, calling his continued employment at the university an intolerable message to students.
"By turning a blind eye and continuing to let this convicted pedophile teach, Bradley University stands by this convicted sexual predator," the petition read in part. "As students, words cannot describe how disgusted we are that Bradley continues to employ In Soo Ahn."
Other online comments by alumni and parents of current students who signed the petition expressed similar outrage, threatening transfers to different schools and a drop in donations.
"I have a son at Bradley, and a daughter considering Bradley," one man wrote. "This will be a huge factor in our decision on where she goes to school."
Exactly one week before Ahn's resignation, Ken Young resigned his post as director of the school's celebrated Forensics program. Young had been under investigation for allegations of sexual assault at a speech summer camp for high school students in Texas about 10 years ago, when he was a counselor along with the alleged victim.
The university has not publicly acknowledged the sexual assault allegation or investigation, leading some students to decry the silence in chalk messages around campus throughout the week.
Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.