In the case that has drawn national media attention, VSU professor Dr. Frank Rybicki was found not guilty of the charge of injuring a student in a Georgia State Court on Monday August 15.
It took a jury only a short time to come to a verdict of not guilty after a string of student witnesses took the stand to give their testimony of the events that launched the criminal case between the plaintiff, Krista Bowman and Rybicki.
“The jury wasted no time in coming to the immediate verdict of not guilty,” Rybicki’s attorney, Billy Folsom, said. “Every single witness who appeared on behalf of Rybicki testified differently than Bowman.”
In total, eight VSU students were subpoenaed as witnesses to take the stand in defense for Rybicki and three people, including Bowman, testified for the prosecution according to Ed Hooper, senior mass media major, who appeared as a witness for Rybicki, himself.
Rybicki said he would not comment on the issue due to his legal circumstances.
He has been on suspension since the incident but has now resumed his role in the classroom.
“Dr. Rybicki is currently a faculty member here at VSU,” Dean of Academic Affairs, Phil Gunter, said.
According to Mass Media Area Head Frank Barnas, Rybicki will indeed be back in action this week, teaching the Senior Seminar class and serving as one of the primary advisors for undergraduate mass media students.
Bowman refused to comment on any of the issues surrounding the case.
The trial came as a result of an incident that occurred last spring when Bowman, then a senior mass media major, accused Rybicki of slamming a laptop down on her fingers during a Media Ethics class.
During the March 25 class, Bowman was allegedly accused of repeatedly surfing non-class related websites during class time by Rybicki. After numerous verbal warnings, Bowman was approached by Rybicki, and in his efforts to enforce discipline, Bowman said he closed her laptop on top of her hands, injuring her.
On March 30, Rybicki found himself under arrest and booked in the Lowndes County Jail with a battery charge looming over his head. Upon being released from the LCJ on a $2,500 bond that same afternoon, he was then placed on paid suspension by VSU.
Rybicki’s classes were then taken over by other instructors to conclude the spring semester, and Rybicki remained on suspension.
Folsom expressed that he feels VSU has mistreated Rybicki throughout this entire ordeal.
Now, almost five months after the original incident, the criminal case has finally come to a close and Rybicki will be able to move foward with his life.
In addition to resuming his academic role at VSU, Rybicki has been warmly welcomed back by many students who have shown him immense support from the day that the initial charges were filed last spring, all the way to the culmination of the trial last Monday.
“There was tons of support for Dr. Rybicki during the trial,” said Hooper. “He is a great professor and I respect the way in which he did his job. I am thankful that I got to stand up for a good guy and very glad that the trial turned out the way that it did.”
Support for Rybicki has come in many other shapes and sizes as well.
Heath Croft and Kevin Cheatham, both mass media graduate students, joined forces to create the Facebook group “Team Rybicki.”
Since “Team Rybicki” was established, over 100 students have branded themselves as Rybicki supporters and covered the site with endless comments supporting Rybicki and wishing him luck. Many members of “Team Rybicki” even went as far as showing up at the trial, all brandishing their “Team Rybicki” t-shirts.
“Dr. Rybicki is good people,” Croft, said. “We wanted to do something to show our support for Dr. Rybicki, and at the same time, educate people as to what was going on. Students have to understand their rights and that no one can stop them from voicing themselves.”
Barnas also expressed his support for Rybicki.
“I would like to point out that Frank has been exceptional during this time,” Barnas said. “He did not whine or gripe about his situation – instead, I got the sense that he wanted to get back to work. I am glad to have him back.”