William and Mary professor accused of threatening Government Department chairman via email


A College of William and Mary professor is accused of sending a series of threatening emails to the univeristy's government department chair John McGlennon.

David A. Dessler, a 61-year-old government professor, is accused of sending three threatening emails to McGlennon in February and March.

A March 18 email sent by Dessler was also sent to William and Mary's faculty, according to criminal affidavits given to the Gazette by William and Mary Police Department.

These affidavits were not in Dessler's case file at the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court as of publication. Criminal affidavits are public record and offer details about criminal cases.

Dessler has been on medical leave since October 2015. Around the same time, William and Mary Provost Michael R. Holleran banned Dessler from the university and told him not to communicate with students or staff, Dessler said during a June 6 interview with the Gazette at Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

The criminal affidavits say that McGlennon, who is also a James City County supervisor, received two threatening emails at his William and Mary faculty email address on Feb. 26.

The emails were unsigned but use language such as “Let the terror begin” and “You'll stop laughing soon, I guarantee it.”

The college sent McGlennon home following the emails for his safety, according to court documents.

Dessler denied writing the emails, saying he believes the police department tied him to the documents through “Star Trek” references within the emails. He bases this belief on information provided to him by a lawyer.

William and Mary officials declined to comment on Dessler's case.

William and Mary Police Department arrested Dessler on Feb. 28, and he was charged with harassment by computer. He was released on his own recognizance the same day, Dessler said.

Dessler was arrested again on March 18 after police say he sent an email to McGlennon and other William and Mary faculty. The email was sent from Dessler's William and Mary faculty account and signed, “David,” court documents state.

The email details grievances Dessler had with the college and its policies, and states that someone will “show up in Williamsburg and take you apart,” according to court documents.

Dessler said that the line in the email was not a threat but a warning to the school that someone may to go the press with information about his arrests.

Security was increased around McGlennon's office around that time, court documents state.

Dessler was released from the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail on a $3,500 bond, he said.

Dessler was arrested a third time on May 11 for missing a competency hearing scheduled in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.

A competency hearing for Dessler was held May 26. At the hearing, Williamsburg-James City County Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Cathy Black asked that Dessler be taken to Chippenham Hospital in Richmond for a competency evaluation. His residency at the hospital was part of his bond.

There was another impromptu competency hearing for Dessler on May 31 due to an “issue with bond” after Chippenham Hospital would not accept him, Black said.

He will stay in the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail until the court can find a place for Dessler to get a competency evaluation, Black said. 

Dessler has a hearing in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court on June 30.

Mayfield can be reached at 757-298-5828.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette