USA professor cleared in costume party photo controversy

Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 5:46 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - One of the three University of South Alabama professors put on leave over controversial photos at a costume party is returning to her duties.

The complaint against Dr. Teresa Weldy has been dismissed. Dr. Weldy and professors Bob Wood and Alex Sharland were placed on paid leave in March 2021 after an independent investigation into the photos was launched.

The University said Dr. Weldy has been cleared and released the following statement:

The University of South Alabama’s review of the facts surrounding photographs that were taken at a 2014 Halloween event continues to make progress. As an update, the University is providing this statement with the permission of Dr. Teresa Weldy.

A thorough investigation of Dr. Weldy’s participation in the event was conducted by an independent, external investigator. The investigator’s report was then reviewed by the Complainants, a group of faculty, staff and students representing those who had expressed concerns. The unanimous conclusion of the Complainants was that there was no basis for the University to continue with a formal process against Dr. Weldy under the Equal Opportunity/Equal Access policy found in section 1.5.3 of the 2014 Faculty Handbook.

The investigator’s report indicated that Dr. Weldy appeared in a photograph with another faculty member who was dressed as a British “hanging judge,” with both holding a noose. Dr. Weldy was present at the costume contest for a few minutes and did not plan in advance to participate. Dr. Weldy was not wearing a costume at the event and did not have a part in providing the noose, which was part of another person’s costume. Dr. Weldy reported that she did not know of the existence of the photo until it appeared in the media.

Because the matter has been dismissed, Professor Weldy will be returning to her University duties.

At this time, no additional information related to the 2014 event and others involved is available.