Director departs speech team amidst sexual assault allegation

The director of the Bradley University Speech Team, Ken Young, resigned from Bradley on Oct. 26 amidst the conclusion of an investigation into a decade-old sexual assault allegation made against him.

According to an article published in the Peoria Journal Star, a woman posted on social media during last year’s #MeToo movement alleging that she was sexually assaulted by “a celebrated director of one of the top ranking speech programs in the nation” during a forensics camp at the University of Texas at Austin where they were both camp counselors. Young was not identified by name in the post.

Bradley would not confirm or deny if there was any investigation into the sexual assault allegation against Young, citing it is a personnel matter, and stating he resigned “to spend more time with his family.”

Tony Adams, chairperson of the communication department, declined to comment on the allegation, but confirmed that Justin Helmley was named the interim director of forensics in late September.

“This isn’t new to Justin,” Adams said. “He didn’t just become the interim director as of Friday [Oct. 26]. He has been the interim director until further notice … starting in the end of September.”

As of Young’s departure, Helmley will continue to be interim director for the forensics program until the position is filled. Helmley previously served as the assistant director of forensics.

“Thankfully, I haven’t been put in the position for making the decision,” Dan Smith, associate chair of communication, said.

Smith was the director of the forensics program from 1994-2012 and coached Young. He said he also knows the accuser of this allegation and described the recent events as a very difficult situation for him and unfortunate for all.

“Accusation itself is enough to destroy [Young’s] career,” Smith said.

He said it is “grossly unfair” for students in the speech programs because now they have to deal with a sexual assault scandal associated with the program.

“I will be shocked if our rivals don’t use that against us,” Smith said.

Smith said he was first aware of the allegation in April as rumors started floating around after the national speech tournament, and believes that Young was connected to the incident around the end of last semester.

The university is planning to start a national search for the director position by Nov. 15, according to Adams. It is expecting to have the position filled as of next July if the regular hiring process is not delayed.

“The hardest part will be the spring semester and making sure we have sufficient coaches and coaching staff for the spring semester,” Adams said.

The communication department is not actively concerned about the forensics program as they were planning to expand it and hired an additional full-time coach this semester.

“This was the first year we were going to have three [full-time coaches],” Adams said. “We are down a full time coach from what we hoped for, but we are at the same coaching level as last year.”

Young was also an instructor for various classes in the communication department. His classes were canceled by the department on Oct. 24, two days prior his resignation, and resumed on Oct. 29 with new instructors.

Dakota Horn, lecturer of communication, has stepped in as the course instructor for Young’s section of Oral Communication Process (COM 103). Becky Petrany, temporary instructor of communication, has stepped in as the instructor of Persuasive Process (COM 305).

According to the Bradley’s website, Young was hired in 2012 after graduating from Bradley in 2005. During the six years he coached, the Speech Team won two National Forensics Association national championships.

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