A Ball State University instructor accused by a woman...

Oct. 11, 1991
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MUNCIE, Ind. -- A Ball State University instructor accused by a woman student of making sexual advances was found dead in his car, an apparent suicide.

The instructor, Sheldon H. Gurney, 46, apparently used a jar with cyanide and hydrochloric acid from his biology laboratory to turn his car into a gas chamber Thursday, investigators said. Emergency crew used protective equipment to guard themselves from the fumes when they took him from his car parked behind his house.

An autopsy was planned Friday to determine the exact cause and approximate time of death, Delaware County Coroner Jack Stonebraker Jr. said.

Gurney's death came just three days after one of the chief reporters for the student-written Ball State Daily News, Rebecca Ward of DeMotte, wrote a bylined article telling how an instructor had helpfully rubbed her back and then moved from helpfulness to sexual fondling.

She did not name Gurney in the Monday article but did file a protective order for herself against him Oct. 2 in Delaware Superior Court.

Ward was unavailable for comment after Gurney's death. She left town Thursday for her northern Indiana home, campus friends said.

University police were continuing a criminal investigation of allegations that Gurney had committed sexual battery, Ball State University Capt. Robert Fey said.

Ward did not allege she was raped. She wrote that her instructor had massaged her back and then moved his hands to her breasts. She said she froze, not knowing what to do. She had respected the man as a professor and did not want to anger him but found an excuse to flee the room.

Her article generated letters to editor in the student newspaper about sexual harassment for several days afterward.

'As a consequence of the article that appeared in the student newspaper on Monday, at least four other students came forward and charged that they were victims of similar behavior,' Jeffrey Alford, executive director of communications and publications for the university, said Friday.

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