Facebook Threat Lands University Instructor in Jail UPDATE
Update: A Northwest Missouri State University Professor accused of an inappropriate Facebook post will not be charged with a crime for the post. He will be charged with drug offenses after a search of his house in Maryville turned up what prosecutor Bob Rice called a marijuana growing operation.
Nodaway County Prosecutor Bob Rice tells us the Facebook post, about going to the campus bell tower with a high powered rifle, was very likely a joke.
“Basically I have to show that a comment is made with a serious intent to threaten others,” Rice said in an interview.
“If I cannot show that mental state that it was made seriously and not just a joke, then I don’t have the proof beyond a reasonable doubt to proceed with that charge.”
Friday 10 p.m. As it turns out the investigation led them in another direction. Authorities searched the home of the instructor Friday morning.
“When we searched his house, again, we were looking for anything that would give us a peak into his mind to confirm whether or not he was being serious, or if he was, in fact, joking. When we executed the search warrant we found a growing operation of marijuana.”
According to a court affidavit, the search turned up approximately ten live plants underneath heated lights, and multiple bags of marijuana, including dried marijuana, and multiple bongs and smoking pipes.
Chief Clarence Green of the Northwest Missouri State University Police Department, said there was more than the statutory 35 grams of marijuana in the house, at 602 West 2nd Street in Maryville.
The evidence was sufficient for Rice to file two counts against Rouch, producing a controlled substance, a class-b felony, and possession of a controlled substance, a class-c felony.
Rouch faces arraignment on Tuesday. Bond has not yet been set in the case, and Rouch remains in custody.
On Thursday the university issued a statement saying it had suspended Rouch pending completion of an internal investigation.
No charges have been filed by Friday morning against a communications instructor at Northwest Missouri State who was jailed for a Facebook post.
Matthew Rouch, 57,was arrested Thursday on a 24-hour investigative hold. Prosecuting Attorney Bob Rice has not yet filed any charges in the case, and has not returned telephone calls asking for comment.
The post: “…by October, I’ll be wanting to get up to the top of the bell tower with a high powered rifle – with a good scope, and probably a gatling gun as well.”
School officials and the Nodaway County Sheriff took the post seriously, as did an editorial in the student newspaper, The Northwest Missourian:
“We will not even acknowledge the possible joking tone that may have been lost in this post because, honestly, we don’t care,” wrote Editor-in-Chief Trey Williams.
“We are shocked that a University professor would willingly post something so incredibly unwise, and that it went under the radar. Granted the post was removed later that day after comments from other faculty were made.
“But that is not a joke you make, and we hope that’s all that it was. That is not something you say, no matter how frustrating your students may get. That’s not something you throw around at any point, on any forum, for any reason.”
School officials say they will now will wait for results of a law enforcement investigation before taking any other action. Rouch’s booking photograph appeared among a regular submission of all booking photos from the Nodaway County Jail.
The booking photograph was slugged with the charge, as are all such photographs. Rouch’es photograph was titled “Rouch-Matthew-Investigative-Hold-Terroristic-Threats.” No such charge had been filed by Friday morning.
Northwest emailed a message to all students, faculty, and staff Thursday saying it would not tolerate threats or violence and that the teacher had been removed from campus.
In an online poll of students, Rouch received relatively high marks. His overall quality rated a perfect 4.0. He also received a top score for “clarity.” Students gave him an average of 3.9 on “helpfulness,” and 3.0 on “easiness.”