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Update: Pitts awaiting grand jury hearing




fire

Correction and clarification appended.

Update: Sept. 16, 11:21 a.m.

AU Professor David Pitts will continue to be detained while he awaits his “felony status conference,” according to the D.C. Superior Court. No bond has been set for Pitts’ release.

Pitts appeared in his second preliminary hearing on Sept. 15, in which the judge found probable cause for a grand jury hearing, according to the Superior Court.

Pitts is still on leave from AU while he awaits trial. The administration does not plan to release any memo or statement to the campus community because the case is regarded as a private personnel matter, according to Vice President for Communications Teresa Flannery.

Update: Sept. 9, 9:06 p.m.

AU professor David Pitts attended his first preliminary hearing for his Sept. 3 arrest on Sept. 8, according to the D.C. Superior Court. Pitts will continue to be detained until his next hearing on Sept. 15.

Pitts’ attorney Justin Okezie denied The Eagle’s request for comment on the case.

Dean of the School of Public Affairs Barbara Romzeck sent a memo to all students and faculty in the school on Sept. 8 discussing Pitts’ arrest.

The memo listed Pitts’ criminal charges and announced that he had been placed on leave from the University. Romzeck also wrote in the memo that all SPA students working directly with Pitts had been notified of his leave last week.

“I would like to thank each of you who have remained respectful and positive in the face of this unexpected situation,” Romzeck said in the memo. “We appreciate your support during this difficult time.”

The University has yet to release any memo or update on the situation to the campus wide community.

Update 5:15 p.m.

AU professor David Pitts has officially been charged with second-degree burglary, according to the D.C. courts.

A second-degree burglary charge means that the perpetrator intended to commit a crime at the time of entry, according to the D.C. criminal code. Those charged with second degree burglary face two to 15 years in prison.

Pitts has not yet been released from police custody.

The University is continuing to release statements on the developing situation through its website.

Update 12:49 p.m.

The University has put Pitts on leave until more information on his case is known, according to a statement posted on the SPA News website.

The statement was sent out to SPA faculty and Ph.D students on Sept.4, according to Vice President of Communications Teresa Flannery. Pitts teaches exclusively graduate classes, according to Flannery.

Update 9:29 a.m.:
Due to Pitts’ arrest, Alison Jacknowitz will assume responsibilities as chair of the department of Public Administration and Policy, according to a statement from the University sent out Sept. 4.

However, arrangements for other faculty to assume Pitts’ classes are in still in progress, according to the statement.

Despite the arrest of a prominent member of the AU community, the University maintains that there is no threat to the AU community.

“At this time, we are not aware of any safety threats to our community,” the statement said, “and we are working closely with MPD and AU Public Safety to continually assess the situation.”

Original Story

David Pitts, an AU professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy, was arrested on Sept. 4, according to a report by FOX 5 DC.

Pitts was arrested and charged after allegedly breaking into a building near AU’s campus and setting property on fire, according to the report.

Pitts allegedly started a fire in a parking attendant booth on the lower level of the parking garage at the Foxhall Square Shopping Mall.

A video filmed by American University student Trey Yingst near the intersection of New Mexico Avenue and Macomb Street shows burning material outside the Foxhall parking garage.

VIDEO: Fire on New Mexico Avenue on September 3

Pitts also allegedly pried open the back door of the building.

The alleged break-in and destruction of property occurred the night of Sept. 3, according to the FOX 5 DC report. Pitts was arrested at the Foxhall Square Shopping Mall around 3 a.m.

When arrested, Pitt had a white cloth bag, a newspaper,a black liquid substance, rubber gloves, matches and lighters in his possession, according to the report.

Pitts has taught at AU since 2008, when he originally served as an assistant professor. He became head of the Department of Public Administration and Policy in 2012. His research focuses on diversity issues in public management and policy, according to his AU faculty profile.

School of Public Affairs Dean Barbara Romzek released a statement to the SPA community yesterday, Vice President of Communication Teresa Flannery said in an email.

kmagill@theeagleonline.com

Corrections: A previous version of this article stated that the University did not provide comment on the issue. SPA Dean Barbara Romzek released a statement to the SPA community and the University sent out comment to media organizations, according to Flannery.

A previous headline said that Pitts was awaiting a grand jury trial. He is waiting for his grand jury hearing.

Clarification: A previous version of this article stated that the status of Pitts’ classes was undetermined. However, while their long term status is unknown, the University is working with other faculty to assume his classes and teaching responsibility for now.