Prosecutors not pursuing charges against William and Mary professor

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Prosecutors are no longer pursuing charges against a professor from the College of William and Mary accused of threatening a colleague in February, according to James City County General District Court documents.

David Dessler, a 61-year-old government professor, was accused of sending a series of threatening emails to William and Mary Government Department Chairman John McGlennon, according to court documents.

On Feb. 26, 2016 McGlennon received two emails that led the college to send McGlennon home for his safety, according to court documents.

One email belittles McGlennon with profane language and said, "let the terror begin," documents state. The second email included the phrase, "You'll stop laughing soon, I guarantee it."

Dessler was arrested on Feb. 28 and charged with harassment by computer. He was released and arrested again on March 18 after police said he sent another threatening email to McGlennon and other faculty, according to court documents.

"After reviewing Mr. Dessler's interactions with the college and their desires, we deemed it appropriate to not pursue criminal charges at this time," Commonwealth's Attorney Nate Green said.

Green said Dessler, as a condition of his bail, has had ongoing mental health treatment and evaluations. Over the last few months, Dessler has improved and shown more compliance with the doctors.

Because the charges are not being pursued, Dessler will not be required to continue that treatment, but Green said he has the option if he wishes.

Dessler's hearings in JCC General District Court have been continued since May. At a hearing Friday morning, prosecutors announced the case would be nolle prossed, meaning they won't pursue the charges unless new evidence is found.

Dessler was banned from the William and Mary campus in October 2015 and told not to email McGlennon, according to court documents. Dessler went on medical leave from the college at that same time.

Currently Dessler is in inactive status at the college because his medical leave period ended in August and he did not take the steps to either retire or return to the college, college spokeswoman Suzanne Seurattan said.

She said the court decision has no impact on his employment status.

"Both the Commonwealth and defense attorneys addressed the underlying mental health conditions involved in this case in the court proceedings today. We are glad to hear Professor Dessler complied with the conditions set by the court and is getting the help he needs," according to a statement from the college. "Additionally, we are supportive of the decision by the Commonwealth Attorney not to move forward with charges at this time. As we have stated, a primary concern has been and continues to be for his overall well-being."

Reyes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4692. Williams can be reached at 757-345-2341.

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