Last month, Dallas Rulon Wilkinson was arrested for taking pictures up unsuspecting women’s skirts in public with a camera hidden on his shoe. Wilkinson immediately resigned from teaching and coaching at Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School before facing likely termination.
Last May, William Carl Figg was convicted and sentenced for non-consensual sexual contact with an exchange student staying in his home. As of this writing, Dr. Figg remains on the information security faculty and scheduled to teach next week at Dakota State University, teaching two courses (with on-campus and online sections) and advising doctoral dissertations and drawing his annual salary of $114,696.84 (search his name on the OpenSD.gov salary database to see for yourself).
Figg committed the act in question in his home during Thanksgiving last November. Lake County State’s Attorney Chris Giles filed one charge against Figg on April 16, 2015.
Figg and his wife have hosted exchange students in their rural home near Rutland in past years. The exchange-student organization through which Figg obtained his victim checked with past exchange students and uncovered an allegation from another student who had stayed with Figg. The sentencing hearing transcript from May 21, 2015, does not say what that past student alleged.
Figg pled no contest but asked Magistrate Judge Carmen Means to cut him slack and grant suspended imposition of sentence, because he’s a veteran and came to court with a clean record. Judge Means denied that request:
Given the nature of the offense here, I am going to deny the request for a suspended imposition of sentence. My concern is both in lack of taking responsibility, even though there is a conviction here as a result of the plea, the nature of the no contest plea concerns me in terms of taking responsibility for what happened. Additionally, I—I just think that this needs to be on his record for a future reference [Magistrate Judge Carmen Means, sentencing hearing for William Carl Figg, Madison, South Dakota, 2015.05.21].
Judge Means gave Figg a $500 fine and 180 days in jail. She suspended jail time on condition that Figg pay the fine and not break any other laws for one year.
South Dakota law treats Figg’s sexual touching and Wilkinson’s invasion of privacy as equally severe crimes. Wilkinson violated SDCL 22-21-4, which prohibits “Use or dissemination of visual recording or photographic device without consent and with intent to self-gratify, harass, or embarrass.” Figg violated SDCL 22-22-7.4, which prohibits “Sexual contact without consent with person capable of consenting.” Both crimes are Class 1 misdemeanors. Neither crime lands Wilkinson or Figg on South Dakota’s sex offender registry.
The South Dakota Professional Code of Ethics for Teachers, which every K-12 teacher swears to follow, says teachers shall “engage in no act that results in a conviction” and not engage in “moral turpitude.” When Wilkinson broke those rules, he gave the Sioux Falls School Board legal ground to fire him immediately.
South Dakota Board of Regents Policy 4-14, on Faulty Discipline and Disciplinary Procedures, includes “conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude” as an example of “unacceptable conduct” that can draw discipline. Section 15 of the current Regental–faculty agreement lays out the process for subjecting faculty to discipline. No information is available as to what steps, if any, the new Dakota State Uniersity administration has taken to evaluate the bearing Dr. Figg’s conviction should have on the university’s assessment of his fitness to teach, research, and handle big federal grants for research on information security.