Education

FIU prof charged with sexually assaulting his cleaning woman

FIU business professor David Ralston in his picture from the school’s website
FIU business professor David Ralston in his picture from the school’s website FIU Business School website

U.S. marshals found FIU business professor David Ralston Thursday in a Fort Lauderdale Days Inn motel, 20 miles from his Weston home. Ralston’s choice of $60-a-night lodging wasn’t business. It was personal:

He was a fugitive wanted for allegedly sexually assaulting a cleaning woman at his Fort Myers home after drugging her.

According to U.S. marshals, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office believes it possesses video of the assault via Ralston’s own surveillance camera.

Ralston, 69, was booked into Broward County Jail Thursday on a charge of sexual battery when the victim was helpless. He’ll be extradited to Lee County. An FIU spokesperson said the university has sent notice to Ralston, who has been at FIU four years, of their intent to suspend him.

According to the sheriff’s report, Ralston hired a cleaning woman for his McGregor Woods area Fort Myers home from Craigslist. The report says she gave the following account of her third cleaning job at Ralston’s home, Apr. 29:

Ralston offered her an afternoon drink. About a half hour after she imbibed what she said Ralston called “a really strong vodka and orange juice,” she felt “drugged.”

“[The woman] believes she passed out for some time, but remembers hearing and feeling something vibrating inside her,” the report said.

She said she didn’t remember anything else until 10 or 11 p.m. The report says the woman’s husband got a call from her at 2:34 p.m. during which she said somebody had taken her clothes. He called 911, though he didn’t know the address of Ralston’s house.

His wife reached a neighbor who called the husband to say the woman was with him. He arrived to find his wife passed out in the driveway.

Two days later, sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at Ralston’s home. They walked out with what marshals said is the incriminating video.

According to the marshals, the sheriff’s office contacted Ralston and his attorney by phone on May 6 to discuss his surrender. Ralston refused “on numerous occasions,” and disappeared. After getting an arrest warrant, the county called in the marshals’ Fugitive Task Force.

A Wednesday stakeout of Ralston’s Weston home determined Ralston wasn’t there, but was at the Days Inn, 1700 W. Broward Blvd.

Ralston is the third FIU faculty member to be accused of sexual misconduct recently. Women’s basketball captain Destini Feagin produced text messages and an audio recording to support her claim that coach Marlin Chinn, a newlywed father-to-be, tried to establish a sexual relationship with her throughout the 2015-16 season. The school fired him.

Adam Drisin’s LinkedIn page still says he’s FIU’s senior associate dean in the College of Architecture and Arts. But Drisin left FIU in September 2015 after a former female architecture student filed a $75,000 lawsuit accusing Drisin of sexual battery, stemming from a party in Italy during a semester abroad.

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