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W&M professor found fit to stand trial

A College of William and Mary government professor facing a pair of harassment by computer charges has been found fit to stand trial, his attorney said in court Tuesday.

David A. Dessler, 62, will be tried May 25 at 1 p.m. in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.

Dessler, who is accused of sending a series of threatening emails to the university’s department Chairman John McGlennon, has been out on bond since February, and appeared in court with his attorney, Brenton Bohannon.

Bohannon said in court Tuesday that his mental health evaluation came out well and was cleared to stand trial.

In February 2016, Dessler was accused of sending a number of threatening emails to McGlennon. At a Dec. 9 hearing, those charges were nolle prossed, meaning prosecutors wouldn’t pursue charges unless they came across new evidence.

Less than a month later, on Jan. 7, according to the current complaints, McGlennon responded to another email from Dessler and told him to stop all electronic communication with him, telling him that it was not wanted and would be considered harassment.

On Jan. 12, according to the court complaint, Dessler sent McGlennon another email, this one from his personal account, that had profane and harassing language. A line in the email stated, “if this is unwanted well delete it.” He was arrested a day later.

Dessler faces a second charge of harassment by computer for allegedly sending dozens of emails to university officials, including university counsel Deborah Love and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Cathy Black.

Dessler was on medical leave from October 2015 until August 2016 and is a tenured faculty member at Willilam and Mary, though the university has barred him from campus and restricted his access to contact faculty members.

Bohannon said in court he did not expect the trial to take long. He said he planned to call just two witnesses.

“I’d be surprised if it took two hours,” Bohannon said.

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