Professor Acquitted of Murder May Return to Teaching
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) _ A professor acquitted of murder in a grisly homosexual bondage slaying may become a campus celebrity if he returns to the classroom as planned, students said Thursday.
Robert David Little, chairman of the Indiana State University library science department, was found innocent Wednesday after a highly publicized seven-day trial.
Little, 53, said he would return to the post he’s held since 1971.
″He might sort of become a tourist attraction,″ said senior Tim Graf, president of the Lambda Group, a campus homosexual rights organization. ″Students will want to take his class just to take a look at him.″
The professor was a little-known figure on the 11,700-student western Indiana campus before the murder charge, students said.
There are only three undergraduate library science majors and eight graduate students. The department has three professors, including Little.
Many students heard Little’s name for the first time in December when he was accused of helping his former friend and housemate stab to death 23-year- old Steven Agan.
Agan was tied up, tortured and stabbed in December 1982 in a rural area about 40 miles north of Terre Haute, investigators said. The body was slashed open from chest to groin.
Little’s housemate of seven years, Larry Eyler, pleaded guilty last December to murdering Agan. He testified last week that Agan was killed as part of a bondage scene that Little directed and photographed for a sexual thrill.
Eyler is on death row in Illinois for the Chicago dismemberment murder of a male prostitute. He has been named in court documents as a suspect in more than 20 slayings in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin in the early 1980s.
Little, who was living with Eyler at the time, denied knowledge of any murders.
Little was arrested Dec. 18 and jailed without bond. He was suspended from the university, then allowed to take unpaid leave.
After the verdict was returned, a grinning Little said he was too relieved by the verdict to worry about whether the trial had injured his reputation.
″I haven’t even had time to think about it,″ Little said. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Little is protected by tenure, said Martin Blake, director of public information.
His status will be reviewed by President Richard Landini, who will make a recommendation to the board of trustees, Blank said. The next board meeting is May 10.
History Professor Richard Clouse, a former president of the faculty Senate, said he supported Little’s right to return but believed it might be difficult.
″I think it would be highly embarrassing to come back to the campus now,″ Clouse said. ″If I were him, I would go elsewhere.″
The acting chairman of library science department, Choog Han Kim, declined comment.
During the trial, Little’s defense attorneys acknowledged that he was a homosexual and urged jurors not to be prejudiced by that.
Graf said Little was more likely to be viewed as a curiosity on the campus best known for another local celebrity - Larry Bird.
″I’ve heard a lot of students say they’d like to take Little’s class now,″ said senior textiles major Kathy Hammond. ″It would be like if Larry Bird was teaching here.″