The legacy of a former Ball State professor who was arrested in March on child molesting charges will not be tarnished while the case is in courts, the dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media said.
Melvin Sharpe was arrested on March 11 on charges of child molesting and child solicitation. Child molesting is a Class A felony.
The affidavit for his arrest said he sexually abused a boy over a period of several years, from about 2006 to 2012.
Sharpe retired from Ball State in 2007 and was recognized with more than 30 awards from Ball State. There is a public relations fund in his name and he is a part of the Journalism Hall of Fame.
The College of Communication, Information and Media is waiting until the case goes through the courts before any changes are made, Dean Roger Lavery said.
“In the U.S., anyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” Lavery said. “We’ll wait for a verdict from the court system before we take any action, if it is deemed necessary.”
Journalism department chairperson Michael Holmes issued a statement to department faculty in an email on March 13.
“We are saddened by the accusations and have deep concern for the young man involved,” Holmes said in the email. “While this case remains to be heard in the courts, any occurrence of abuse is unacceptable, and goes against the university's mission and values.”
Sharpe’s picture appears on a plaque on the third floor of the Art and Journalism Building.
The Dr. Mel Sharpe Excellence Fund for Public Relations, hosted through the Ball State Foundation, is also still in existence, Holmes said.
The fund was started in 2012 with funds in excess of $29,000 and is used for activities that bring distinction and recognition to the public relations program.
Holmes said it was last used in August 2014 to support student participation at national meetings of the Public Relations Society of America.
When he retired from Ball State in 2007, a feature on the front page of the Department of Journalism Phoenix publication said the impact of his work at Ball State built the public relations graduate and undergraduate program into one of the premier programs in the nation.
Sharpe also holds two individual national awards from PRSA, the most recent from 2006.
Hoosier PRSA's president Kasinger said Hoosier PRSA is aware of the allegations. Their chapter has a graduate scholarship named in his honor.
She said they have not made any decisions at this point, but will continue to award the scholarship.
"The board will await the outcome of the investigation and make decisions as needed," she said. "But we are committed to continuing our scholarship fund."
Sharpe’s initial hearing is set for 9 a.m. on April 23 with Delaware County Circuit Court No. 2.