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Suspended Missouri professor Melissa Click avoids assault prosecution

University of Missouri assistant professor Melissa Click reached a deal with prosecutors Friday regarding her assault charge in calling for “some muscle” to handle journalists at a campus protest.
University of Missouri assistant professor Melissa Click reached a deal with prosecutors Friday regarding her assault charge in calling for “some muscle” to handle journalists at a campus protest. The Associated Press

A suspended University of Missouri professor charged with assault in clashes with two student journalists can avoid prosecution if she does community service and stays out of trouble for a year.

Columbia’s city prosecutor, Steve Richey, announced the agreement Friday with Melissa Click, assistant professor of communications. He said the terms were in line with how his office handled “dozens” of similar cases.

During the height of student protests over racial issues at MU, Click on Nov. 9 was videotaped calling for “some muscle” to remove the journalists from the campus quadrangle. In the deal Friday, she agreed to the year’s probation and to serve 20 hours of community service.

If tried and convicted of the third-degree assault charges, which were filed Monday, she could have faced 15 days in jail and a $300 fine.

Like the prosecutor, Click’s attorney, Christopher Slusher, said the agreement for dismissal of charges was common in cases with similar facts. He noted Click’s “public and personal apologies” and continued regret of her actions and said she “wishes to apologize again to those directly involved in the events and to the community.”

Although the agreement settles her legal status with the city, Click remains a focus for controversy. Scores of Republican lawmakers in Jefferson City have called for her firing, and the university system’s board of curators suspended her Wednesday.

That suspension was outside the university’s usual channels and drew a formal request Thursday from the MU Faculty Council that the curators follow established procedures.

The council’s committee for such matters told the curators that suspending Click and “conducting its own investigation to determine whether additional discipline is appropriate, without using the existing procedures that the board has approved, undermines confidence in the current leadership of the university.”

The committee also noted that many faculty members thought Click had been through enough, given that she had made “a heartfelt apology,” received death and rape threats after the video went viral, and been reprimanded by the university’s provost.

Videographer Mark Schierbecker, who had been Click’s target for removal along with photographer Tim Tai, told the Columbia Daily Tribune he thought the agreement to defer prosecution was “reached in a timely manner” and he hoped Click “can hold to her bargain.”

But Schierbecker, who pursued the charges, declined to say whether he thought the community service and year’s probation were appropriate punishment.

Greg Hack: 816-234-4439, @GregHack

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