Former UT professor arrested for assaulting student in a grocery store

She was taken into custody yesterday


Judy Morelock, an ex-professor at the University of Tennessee, has been arrested and charged with assaulting one of her former students.

She was taken into custody yesterday and released on bail after allegedly assaulting Kayla Parker, a senior at UT and a former student of hers, in a grocery store.

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 Parker, a senior at UT

Kayla Parker, a senior at UT

In a message to Kayla's mom, Morelock admitted touching her but denied it amounted to an attack.

"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," she wrote. "When she jumped back and yelled, 'Don't touch me, don't touch me,' I knew I had made a big mistake."

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."

Judy Morelock's mugshot

Judy Morelock's mugshot

It marks the culmination of an extended period of Morelock's belligerence towards her former student. Earlier this year after Kayla raised a question about a class quiz on slavery, Morelock began posting about her on Facebook.

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

Morelock also 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."

She was fired from her job as a sociology professor earlier this June. Kayla has had to take out an agreed order (similar but less serious than a restraining order) against Morelock.

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.

Read more about Kayla Parker's case here.