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University of Arizona professor still not welcome on campus months after sex charges dropped
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University of Arizona professor still not welcome on campus months after sex charges dropped

Months after sex crime charges were dropped against a University of Arizona pharmacy professor, the public still is paying to keep him off campus.

Jesse Lyle Bootman, former dean of the UA’s pharmacy school, remains on paid leave from his $253,000 professor’s job because school officials continue to believe “his presence on campus would be disruptive,” UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson said Wednesday.

The UA has been paying Bootman to stay away since the fall of 2015, when he was criminally charged on suspicion of drugging and raping an unconscious woman at his Foothills home.

At the time, he was the dean of pharmacy, but returned to a faculty post after the UA stripped him of his leadership role.

Bootman pleaded not guilty and the charges were dropped last fall after the prosecutor cast doubt on the likelihood of obtaining a conviction.

The charges were withdrawn without prejudice, meaning they could be resurrected if new evidence comes to light.

In a statement after the criminal case ended, defense attorney Joshua Hamilton said Bootman was looking forward “to continuing with his personal and professional endeavors.”

In an email Friday, Hamilton said the UA has erred by keeping his client off campus.

“Dr. Bootman has been a valued faculty member of the University of Arizona for more than 40 years,” he said.

The idea that Bootman’s presence on campus would be disruptive “is based on a fundamental misapprehension of the material facts, much of which has not been made public.

“The criminal case against him was dropped because Dr. Bootman is completely innocent,” he said.

Sigurdson wouldn’t say how long Bootman’s paid leave is expected to continue, citing UA and Arizona Board of Regents’ policies that restrict public comments on personnel issues.

At 67, Bootman is a bit past traditional retirement age, but it’s not uncommon for tenured professors to stay on the job into their 70s or beyond. They typically have jobs for life, absent proven wrongdoing or grave performance problems.

UA policy states that, “A faculty member may be placed on leave with pay only if it is determined by the president that the faculty member’s continued presence on the university campus is likely to constitute a substantial interference with the orderly functioning of the university or a department or unit thereof.”

Meanwhile, the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy recently renewed Bootman’s pharmacist’s license.

The now-closed criminal case included allegations that he drugged his accuser with a prescription sleep aid.

Once the criminal charges were dropped, the board had no grounds to deny Bootman a license, said Kam Gandhi, the state board’s executive director.

“This is a rare case,” Gandhi said.

“Once charges are dropped or dismissed, we don’t have a leg to stand on as far as taking action on something of this nature.”

Bootman “is considered a pharmacist in good standing,” he said.

A civil lawsuit, filed by the woman who accused Bootman, is ongoing and could go to trial later this year.

Civil suits use a lesser standard of evidence than criminal cases, so a defendant who is not convicted criminally can still be found liable for damages in civil court under the same set of facts.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com. On Twitter: @StarHigherEd


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