Students in Dr. Omar Elkeelany’s computer engineering class received an email saying they had a new professor on Sept. 30. Less than two weeks later they would learn their professor had been indicted for possessing child pornography.
Ben Cross, a student in an introductory electrical and computer engineering course, said he received an email from an administrative associate stating his class had been cancelled on Sept. 24, and then the next week, he received an email stating another professor would be teaching the class.
“I didn’t hear anything until the article came out on Facebook, and I read the article,” Cross said.
Elkeelany was indicted for possession of child pornography on Oct. 1. Putnam County authorities believe he fled the country.
Elkeelany’s son, Osama Elkeelany, declined to comment about the situation in a Facebook message sent by an Oracle reporter.
“I honestly didn’t have many thoughts about him. He didn’t talk much. He was quiet. He cancelled class one week, and the next week we had a new teacher,” Cross said.
The announcement also surprised Elkelany’s former student, Tanner Bryant.
“Honestly, I don’t have much to say, but I was shocked when I read the article from the Herald [Citizen]. Like I said, I had him a few years back for Digital Systems, and he was always a nice guy and a good professor,” Bryant said.
The university is not conducting any internal investigations and continues to cooperate with authorities according to Dewayne Wright, a university spokesman.
“Some of our journalists requested an open records request at the D.A.’s office and the Cookeville Police Department, and they were denied on the grounds that the investigation is still open,” Kelly Camera, managing editor of The Oracle, said. “However, we believed that since there was a press release about the event, that it is public knowledge, and we contacted the Student Press Law Center about it.”
Press release from the District Attorney's office.
Upon conviction, a Class B felony may carry "not less than eight nor more than thirty years. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars." pic.twitter.com/misNmwAvQt
— The Oracle (@tntechoracle) October 11, 2018