A Belmont adjunct professor was arrested and charged with a child sex crime on Monday.
Jeffrey Charles Berry, 55, was arrested in Williamson County on a warrant issued from Taylor County, Texas, and charged with a fugitive from justice charge and indecency with a child charges.
Berry taught two Entertainment Distribution and Promotion courses for the Entertainment Industry Studies program in the fall semester with about 22 students in each course.
Dr. David Schreiber, chair of the Entertainment Industry Studies program, said Berry came to Belmont “highly recommended,” received positive course evaluations and was generally liked by students, so the arrest “came as quite a shock.”
Belmont suspended Berry from teaching when the university learned of the arrests and Berry later formally resigned, according to a statement made Wednesday morning.
“Jeff Berry was hired by Belmont as a part-time adjunct instructor in the summer of 2018. At that time, a formal background check revealed no issues of concern.”
Berry’s former students first heard the news from local media instead of the university, which frustrated senior Marcus Edvardsson.
He said he was “baffled by the fact that Belmont doesn’t even have the decency to email the students in his class about what happened.”
Schreiber and Dean of Students Dr. John Delony spoke to Berry’s 3 p.m. class Wednesday, saying Belmont knew about the charges as soon as everybody else did, and the university was trying to be as “transparent as possible.”
Sophomore Dylan Strickland said he thought Berry was a “typical, nice, super normal professor.”
The allegation against Berry is linked to the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas, where Berry worked nine months in 1985-1986 and again from Sept. 1995 to May 1996, according to an article from the Tennessean.
Berry was involved with the Rolling Hills Community Church as a prior board member where he “served alongside a team of adult chaperones at a three-day camp that his children attended in 2014 and 2016,” said Steve Horton, communications director at Rolling Hills Community Church. He said Berry had no involvement with minors aside from that.
Photo courtesy of Williamson County Sheriff’s Department.