A tenured professor in the College of Education, who served jail time for multiple counts of sodomy and sexual abuse toward children, was fired from the University Thursday, a senior administrator said.
Tom Jackson, vice president for public affairs, said the administration "moved immediately" to terminate Cecil Fore III, an associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education, when the Office of Legal Affairs confirmed reports of his criminal history.
Fore gave false information on his security form about his past convictions before he was hired by the University, Jackson said, which lead to his termination. Fore still has the right to ask for a tenure revocation hearing.
All new faculty hires and those who are promoted to "positions of trust" - meaning they have power over "cash, kids or keys," said John Millsaps, a Board of Regents spokesperson - must submit to a background check, according to a policy implemented in January. But Fore, who was hired in 2001, received tenure status before the policy went into effect.
Fore's attorney, James Cooper, told The Red & Black Thursday afternoon that neither he nor his client knew of the termination.
"That's news to us," Cooper said. "I'm kind of surprised that they would do that. I think it speaks poorly of the school to be so precipitous as to terminate my client without a full and fair hearing or at least consulting him."
Fore was convicted in 1991 on multiple counts of sodomy in the second degree and one count of sexual abuse in the second degree against three special education students in junior high schools in Montgomery, Ala., according to court documents.
He served time in an Alabama prison from 1991 to 1993 for the charges, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
According to Fore's curriculum vitae, he taught special education in Alabama schools from 1979 to 1992.
From 1995 to 1996, Fore was the principal at McInnis School in Montgomery, Ala., with grades seven through 12.
Phone calls made to Fore were not immediately returned Thursday.
Fore is not the first professor in the College of Education to have his history of sex-related violations exposed. In September 2007, the University found William Bender, who also taught in the Special Education Department, in violation of sexually harassing his female students after 20 years of accusations and complaints.
During their careers, Fore and Bender wrote chapters in the same textbooks and collaborated on peer-reviewed journal articles on subjects such as learning disabilities and special needs students.
Fore's case "underscores the correctness and importance" of the background check policy enforced by the BOR on all Georgia colleges and universities, Millsaps said.
"This is a terrific example of why [the regents] put this policy in place," said Millsaps.
But he said he did not know if the regents have a system in place to keep track of universities to make sure they are performing background checks on new hires.
The BOR contracted a vendor to handle the background checks, but universities can opt to go with a different vendor, he said.
Both Millsaps and Jackson said that performing background checks on all faculty and staff is not a viable option.
"I don't know if that would be feasible," Millsaps said. Jackson, who was more doubtful, deemed the task "impossible."
But a graduate student who knew Fore as an academic adviser and a professor said background checks should be required of everyone employed by the University.
"It bothers me," said Jennifer Turner, a graduate student in learning disabilities, who also teaches. "I am a teacher. I was background checked. If he sexually abused [three minors], who's to say he wouldn't do that to a college student?"
The BOR expects all universities to follow through with the background check policy, Millsaps said.
But the regents do not "necessarily look over their shoulder to make sure they're doing them," he said. "If the policy is in place, the expectation is that the policy will be followed."
- Kristen Coulter contributed to this story.