VALDOSTA – Following his arrest and subsequent charging, Keith Walters has been stripped of his title as dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Valdosta State University.
Richard Carvajal, president of VSU, and Bob Smith, provost of VSU, met with the faculty Monday afternoon in the Converse Hall Auditorium to answer questions about Walters's arrest and how to move forward.
Smith informed faculty that university leadership learned of the arrest late Sunday night and the president's cabinet had a conference call at 10:30 that night. Carvajal said he was in Oklahoma Sunday night when he received word of the arrest and flew back to Valdosta early Monday morning.
In accordance with the University System of Georgia, Walters will remain on paid administrative leave as a faculty member while investigations are ongoing, Carvajal said. Walters had been removed as dean of the college and therefore that portion of his salary will be eliminated, he said.
James LaPlant will serve as interim dean of the college effective immediately, Smith said.
Carvajal and Smith relayed that VSU was fully cooperating with local law enforcement, and that Walters's background check came back clean when he was hired.
“A detailed background check was done. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you’ll catch everything. It just means there was no legal action before this," Carvajal said. "Bad people can still do bad things.”
The university president assured faculty that so far as he knows no VSU students or faculty members were involved with Walters' alleged crimes. He added that he did not if Walters used any university resources, like computers, to facilitate the alleged nefarious activity.
Of the 14 suspects arrested and charged in the online sting, Carvajal said only Walters has any connection to VSU.
"Thirty years of hiring and I've never, never seen anything like this," Smith told faculty.
Carvajal encouraged faculty to allow students to ask questions and express themselves.
He explained that VSU leadership has remained in touch with VSU student government leaders and kept a dialogue about ongoing developments.
Stressing that this situation was a gut punch to the community, he viewed it as a teachable moment.
"I'm glad this sting happened. I'm glad we know," Carvajal said.
Desiree Carver added to this report.