ATHENS, Ga. -- Authorities have issued arrest warrants against a University of Georgia professor who asked a student to illegally purchase him prescription drugs while the student vacationed in Mexico.
The student allegedly accepted money for an undisclosed nonnarcotic medication from Charles Eugene Lance. Instead of buying the drugs, though, she told a faculty member, who in turn notified UGA police.
Police learned on March 14 of Lance’s attempt to get the student to purchase the medication for him, UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said.
A search of Lance’s campus office found prescription pills in a briefcase, he said.
Warrants were issued on Wednesday charging Lance with criminal attempt to obtain a dangerous drug through fraudulent means and three counts of possession of prescription drugs outside of the original container.
Police have spoken with the professor’s attorney about arranging for him to surrender to authorities at the Clarke County Jail, Williamson said.
Lance had not turned himself in as of late Thursday afternoon.
Lance, who teaches Industrial-Organizational Psychology, was placed on administrative suspension, Williamson said.
The situation started during a class Lance taught at UGA last month, Williamson said, in which the professor and his students discussed their plans for the upcoming spring break.
When a student mentioned she was traveling to Mexico, “He said to her, ‘While you’re there can you buy me such-and-such drug,’” the police chief said.
The students laughed it off, but when the student planning the Mexican trip stopped by Lance’s office on Feb. 24 to drop off a paper, Lance reportedly told her he wasn’t joking about buying him drugs, Williamson said.
“He said he wasn’t playing around and wrote down the name of the drug and gave her money to buy the drug,” Williamson said.
The student was initially conflicted on what to do, as the professor held a position of power over her, according to Williamson.
“(Lance) placed her in a bad spot, because she was thinking how it might effect her academically if she refused him,” Williamson said. “He also placed her in the position of getting in trouble with authorities in Mexico and the United States.”
The student confided with another faculty member she felt comfortable with, and discussions were subsequently held between UGA administrators and legal staff, Williamson said.
On Monday, and after speaking with her parents, the student agreed to assist police so that they could obtain warrants.
“It took some bravery for her to come forward like that,” Williamson said.