110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Student charged with threatening Stetson professor in e-mails
By Jen Horton
posted Feb 25, 2011 - 5:54:15pm
A 19-year-old Stetson University student has been arrested and charged with aggravated stalking and making written threats to kill or do bodily harm.
DeLand police said Sarah Foss threatened the life of Stetson professor David McCarthy in a series of e-mail messages she sent over several hours Thursday night. Police said the e-mails indicated Foss was "romantically infatuated" with the professor.
According to the police report, Foss started sending e-mails to McCarthy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and was sending another one to him when she was confronted by police at 11:18 p.m. She was arrested just after midnight.
The police report listed eight e-mails, and indicated more are in evidence. According to a police transcription, one e-mail read "I will literally kill you if I had to. Where are you. Stop worrying. I know what I want. F*** you."
McCarthy notified Stetson University's Office of Public Safety during the evening, and was told to call the police, a university spokeswoman said. The DeLand Police Department was notified of the situation at 8:58 p.m., but could not find Foss at first. With the help of Public Safety officers, police found her talking with a university counselor, and arrested her.
According to the police report, Stetson University's Office of Public Safety told police the university counseling staff had been aware of the situation since the morning of Feb. 24, but did not notify Public Safety or law enforcement.
University spokeswoman Cindi Brownfield denied that. She said the police report was in error, and that the university counseling center had not been aware of the situation.
Stetson had strong words of support for McCarthy, 33.
"Obviously we care about the well-being of our students, but we have absolute confidence in this professor," said Grady Ballenger, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "He has been a very successful professor for us — great student reviews of his teaching, and his colleagues admire him. It's cruel that this has happened to him."
Ballenger said university policies require a follow-up inquiry to assure nothing inappropriate happened, but, he added, "We don't have anything to indicate that this was anything other than a one-way street of infatuation."
According to the police report, when officers approached her, Foss told them she "knew the deal" and said she didn't want to kill or hurt herself. A person police believe may harm himself or herself may be taken involuntarily for mental-health services under the Baker Act.
McCarthy was identified as the victim in the police report.
"While placing the def (Foss) under arrest she was typing on her computer and the counselor stated, 'Quit e-mailing him.' The Def. shut her computer stating, 'I just wanted him to know I was OK.' I observed her screen and the Def. was e-mailing the victim. The last e-mail that was sent stated, 'Hey, I'm getting Baker Acted tonight. Everyone's okay. I want you to be able to sleep tonight. I'm okay enough,'" DeLand Police Officer Brian Kearney wrote in his report.
Kearney also reported that while Foss was being searched, she said, "I just don't want to see him. I'm going to break up."
Police said Foss sent 12 e-mails to McCarthy. Eight of them were transcribed in the police report, which indicated more were attached as evidence.
Foss' laptop computer was seized as evidence. Dean Ballenger confirmed Stetson University officials can access and read any e-mails sent or received by a Stetson University e-mail address.
This morning, Feb. 25, Foss was being held at the Volusia County Branch Jail under a $4,000 bond. At 5:28 p.m., the booking office at the jail said she was due to be released shortly into pre-trial services.
McCarthy, a member of the Stetson University history faculty, has been a visiting assistant professor at Stetson since 2009. He received his Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary in May 2008. The Beacon's call to McCarthy was not returned.
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