My professor has just been charged with assaulting me

‘She called me “an evil bitch” in the grocery store’

UPDATE

Judy Morelock, a former professor at the University of Tennessee, has now been arrested. Here is her mugshot from when she was booked and charged with assault yesterday:

Judy Morelock

Judy Morelock

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An ex-college professor will be arrested and charged with assault after confronting her old student in a supermarket.

Judy Morelock, who used to teach Sociology at the University of Tennessee, will be taken into custody today after allegedly attacking Kayla Parker, her former pupil and current senior at UT.

Morelock was said to have grabbed Kayla by the arm, yanked her around and called her "an evil bitch" at the checkout counter in Knoxville's Earth Fare store earlier this September.

Knoxville County Sheriff Department confirmed to The Tab Monday morning that there is a warrant out for Judy Morelock's arrest, and that she is being charged with assault. An officer in the department added that she will either turn herself in or be arrested at home, and have bail set at $500.

Kayla Parker, a senior at UT

Kayla Parker, a senior at UT

In an interview with The Tab, Kayla said:

"I was shopping in Earth Fare and talking with the cashier. The next thing I knew I was being grabbed and swung around. I couldn't fathom who could be moving me with that force. When I turned around and saw my old professor standing there, saying 'you evil bitch, you ruined my life,' it took a minute to register what was happening. She was red in the face, yelling and screaming.

"There was complete silence in the store. The cashier gasped, everyone else looked down and stayed silent. They watched her check her groceries out and then left. I yelled at her: 'Don't touch me ever again.'"

Kayla filed a police report that same day, reprinted below, but it was three weeks before she was able to get an agreed order – a court-mandated document that restricts Morelock from approaching Kayla. If Morelock breaks those terms, it would allow Kayla to file a permanent restraining order.

Kayla's police report, given to The Tab

Kayla's police report, given to The Tab

After the incident, Morelock messaged Kayla's mom on Facebook to admit: "I allowed my temper to get out of control, came up to her while she was in a checkout lane, touched her left arm to get her attention, and told her she was an evil human being for disseminating derogatory allegations against me. When she jumped back and yelled, 'Don't touch me, don't touch me,' I knew I had made a big mistake."

An extract of the message Morelock sent to Kayla's mom

An extract of the message Morelock sent to Kayla's mom

She added: "I did not put my hands (plural) on her or grab her. I had a container of food in my right hand. I apologize for touching her and for my hostile words, but there was nothing aggressive of violent in that half second touch."

Kayla's problems with her former teacher started earlier this year when her professor posted Facebook statuses about wanting to attack her.

Morelock appeared to call her student “simple-minded,” expressed a wish to “get her” and said: “Trash me, and I will fight you.”

It all began back in March with a class quiz about slavery. Kayla disagreed with the correct answer in then Professor Morelock's multiple choice test, which read:

Historical research on African-American families during slavery shows that:

A) Family ties weren’t important in African cultures where the slaves ancestors' originated; consequently, family bonds were never strong among slaves.

B) Two-parent families were extremely rare during the slave period.

C) Black family bonds were destroyed by the abuses of slave owners, who regularly sold off family members to other slave owners.

D) Most slave families were headed by two parents.

“I chose C,” Parker explained in a blog post at the time. “I was told that was incorrect; the answer was D. And then things got interesting.”

Kayla wrote: "It was alarming to me that my professor believes that ‘Most slave families were kept intact with wife and husband present.’ What does she think this was, Good Times?”

A screenshot of Kayla's original post

A screenshot of Kayla's original post

A debate followed about the test – Kayla disputed Morelock's teaching, and backed it up with historical research. Morelock responded: "I have taught thousands of black students and I have never had anyone disagree with how I cover this."

According to Kayla, Morelock did not respond well to her disagreement and started posting about her student on Facebook. That's when posts like these appeared on Morelock's profile:

Another status on Morelock's profile threatened to reveal Kayla's personal information online.

"After the semester is over and she's no longer my student," she said, "I will post her name, her picture, and her bio on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Count on it. For now, I'm bound by university rules that grant her more latitude in freedom of speech than I have. After she graduates and I retire, all bets are off."

After these posts emerged, Professor Morelock was fired.

When The Tab covered this back in June, Morelock chose not to comment on the advice of her attorney, but did point us towards messages of support from black students who she used to teach.

She did not see Kayla in person until this September in Earth Fare, where she allegedly assaulted her.

"I had this assumption she would do something like that in person," Kayla told us. "It was really scary – I've been thinking about what would happen. I feel lucky that it had happened in a public place."

Kayla spoke to her cashier on video after the alleged incident, where he said: "A lady came up and physically accosted my friend and was very, very mean. She said awful things… She laid her hands on my friend, it all happened so quick."

When your former Professor, Judy Morelock, sees you at the grocery store, assaults you, then screams "you evil bitch!"

Posted by Kayla Renee Parker on Saturday, September 2, 2017

A twist in the story came from Earth Fare – their store manager told Kayla camera footage of the incident exists, but repeatedly refused to give it to her and local police officers. Neither Earth Fare's store manager nor their corporate office will release the footage of the alleged assault, which Kayla could have used in negotiating her agreed order. In response to Kayla's calls about the tape, the manager hung up on her.

"I was a victim in their store," she said. "It's shocking that they have gone out of their way not to support me."

Earth Fare did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the footage.

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UPDATE

Kayla has told us about a phone call she received from the police officer investigating her case – Earth Fare have allowed the footage to be deleted, vaporizing possible evidence.

"Earth Fare called the officer investigating to let him know the video has been deleted," Kayla said. "They said there was a seven day turnover rate on the camera, so they lost the video – but we have been asking for the video every day since the incident. We have been told numerous times that Earth Fare corporate would handle it. They said either we needed a subpoena or could only give the footage to an officer, but they did neither. Earth Fare's Knoxville store manager said corporate told him not to make a copy and they would handle it. But they did nothing. It's been incredibly frustrating."

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Depending on the category of the charge, assault in Tennessee can be punishable with up to 11 months in jail or a fine up to $2500, or both.

"It's a scary thing," Kayla said. "You're supposed to be able to raise questions in class. When I refused to kowtow to her attempt to silence me, she upped the ante. She was still posting things about me last month. She may never get over this, she's always going to have this grudge over me. She's got this never ending grudge that she tried to take out on me."

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