Former Judson College student Alexis Burt filed a civil lawsuit Oct. 30 against the school and a former employee alleging sexual harassment and Title IX violations, according to numerous media outlets. Judson being named in the lawsuit was confirmed by Judson officials.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Jefferson County. It claims Burt was sexually harassed through Facebook by J. William “Billy” McFarland Jr. in May.
McFarland served as special assistant to the president for business development at Judson College from July 2014 until he resigned in April. According to online records and social media platforms, McFarland lives in Reform and is founder of McFarland Consultants.
Even though neither his Facebook nor LinkedIn profiles had an ending date for Judson noted at press time, Judson officials confirmed McFarland has not been employed by the school since April.
And according to news reports, Burt, now 20, has withdrawn from Judson.
McFarland is reportedly 39 years old and, according to media reports, Burt says he sent her a Facebook friend request following a luncheon in his honor May 21.
Lewd suggestions through private Facebook messages with offers of payment for sexual roleplay followed, Burt says, according to media reports.
McFarland has denied the claims, according to The Tuscaloosa News. In a statement to the paper, he said, “The allegations are completely false and just an attempt to try and publicly embarrass me.”
The Tuscaloosa News also reported that McFarland faced a similar accusation in Marengo County in late 2017. He pleaded no contest and agreed to pay the woman $730 in restitution, according to the news report.
Judson officials are currently working with legal representation and are unable to share comments, but Judson Interim President Scott Bullard provided a prepared statement to The Alabama Baptist.
“Judson College strongly opposes sexual harassment in any form and is committed to maintaining a positive and productive environment in which the dignity and worth of all people is respected,” he said in the statement. “Judson College has policies and procedures in place to ensure that this commitment is met.”