Daniel Earle, a UK student, reportedly announced to his Spanish class that he would kill two of the students present and anyone who went to the police would suffer the same fate, police reports said.
Ellen Hyde, another student present in the class, reported Earle to the police. UK informed her that, because of her report, they had to give Earle her name— before they arrested or expelled him.
UK said that the university had to give Earle the names of his accusers or else UK could not take the necessary steps to expel him. Ellen said the university put her at immediate risk.
Chuck Hyde, Ellen’s father, said that the UK administration has been unhelpfully silent. He said that UK’s actions were reminiscent of administrators at Michigan State University, which had its president resign recently after many accused her of negligence in the school’s handling of sexual assault cases.
“They’re not looking to protect your daughter, they’re not looking to protect your son, they’re looking to protect themselves,” Chuck said. “That isn’t what my daughter should have learned at the University of Kentucky.”
Earle, a veteran with a concealed carry license, threatened his class on Oct. 16. Ellen reported him the same day and Earle was arrested and charged with terroristic threatening on Oct. 31— that’s two weeks in which Hyde knew that Earle had her name, but had no idea where he was and was left to wonder what he was doing.
Ellen was sitting in the back of her Spanish class in the Chemistry-Physics Building. Class was almost over and a student was just finishing a presentation. When the presentation ended, the professor, who was standing behind Hyde at the back of the room, asked the class if anyone had any comments.
Earle, 35, who was attending UK as a non-traditional Spanish major, raised his hand and rose from his seat.
“I could tell he started to raise his voice and he was like, ‘Yeah, let me address something,’” Hyde said. “When he stood up, I could tell he was mad.”
In a police report filed soon after the incident, UKPD Sgt. Donnie Duff wrote that Earle then pointed at two students in the classroom. He accused one of the students of cheating off his test, and told them both that he would kill them.
“He also mentioned that if police were to get involved, they would suffer the same,” the report said.
One student quickly left the room while the professor tried his best to calm Earle down. As Earle walked back and forth across the back of the room, the professor placed his body between the students and Earle. Earle pushed the professor, who fell on top of Hyde.
“I will kill you. I don’t care,” Hyde said Earle told the class before grabbing his backpack and leaving the room.
He walked out the door and the class exhaled.
“We thought he was going to pull a gun,” Hyde said. “Because he was violent. He was ready to fight.”
The report to UK
Hyde called her parents after and told them that she wasn’t sure if her professor, who was in his first year and from another country, would know how to handle the situation. Her parents advised her to call UKPD.
She stressed that the officers handled the situation well and immediately sprung into action. Duff, the UKPD officer who wrote the police report, told Hyde that UKPD would not reveal her identity.
The next day, Ellen received a call from a woman at the Office of Student Conduct who told her that she was their primary witness because she was first to file a complaint. They told her that the office gave Earle her information and said it was part of the process.
Hyde told her that she thought it wasn’t “appropriate” for the office to give her name to Earle— “he just threatened to kill people.” She once again talked to UKPD. According to Hyde, Duff said the university’s sharing of her name was upsetting.
Out of fear for Ellen’s safety, two professors canceled classes that Ellen shared with Earle. Hyde’s professors told her that plain-clothes officers would be present at her classes and Earle was forbidden from going on campus.
Chuck, Ellen’s father, angrily called the president’s office and a woman there told him that Ellen’s name shouldn’t have been shared, but she couldn’t help him and shouldn’t be talking to him. Chuck said he was directed to Nick Kehrwald, the Dean of Students, who told Chuck that he would see what he could do to ensure Ellen’s safety.
“Other than to offer Ellen some victim pamphlets, they have not done anything,” Chuck said.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the university has invested millions in institutions and offices that “work to maintain the well-being of students.”
“It’s why they are here,” Blanton said. “We can always do better, and we are committed to doing so, but the university has invested millions of dollars in recent years to improve safety on campus and we’ve been investing significant resources – in people and other resources – to better support students.”
UK has said that it was lawfully obligated to give Ellen’s name to Earle. If UK had not given him her name, they wouldn’t be able to use Ellen’s testimony in a disciplinary hearing that could expel Earle.
Bill Thro, UK’s legal counsel, said that all public institutions are required to obey the Constitution, and after some inspection it’s clear that the Student Code of Conduct closely mirrors the Constitution. Under that code, UK is required to provide students—who are at risk of expulsion or lengthy suspension—with due process.
As Thro explains it, due process on a college campus is the idea that UK gives an accused student a chance to be heard and defend themselves in a “kind of a mini-trial. An opportunity to say, ‘No this didn’t happen. I’m innocent of whatever I’m accused of.’”
The purpose of due process, Thro said, is to protect against false convictions.
“It is better that a whole bunch of people that should be expelled—are not expelled, rather than one who shouldn’t be expelled end up being expelled,” Thro said.
To defend oneself, one has to know who is accusing him, Thro explained. The accused has to be able to point out when the supposed incident occurred and who the people were that were involved. The accused may have a reliable alibi, but they can’t rely on that if they don’t know when something happened and who it happened to.
“We can’t go in and say, ‘Well Johnny you raped somebody,’ and we don’t tell Johnny who he allegedly raped, we don’t have the victim identified—Johnny has to be in the position to defend himself,” Thro said.
Earle was expelled after an Oct. 22 disciplinary hearing.
In front of Earle and the campus disciplinary board, Ellen was asked if she would feel comfortable with having him in class.
She shook her head no.
Earle was arrested on Oct. 31 at Coffea, a coffee shop on the edge of north campus across the street from the UKPD station. According to court records, he was charged with second degree terroristic threatening—a felony. He pled not guilty.
“I did not say kill in the classroom,” Earle told a judge at a Nov. 22 hearing at the district courthouse in Lexington. “There’s many people who can attest to my character.”
Earle’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Earle was originally allowed no bond as the judge ruled that he was a danger to himself and others. But after two months of state custody and psychiatric testing, the court allowed a $3,000 bond in early January.
“He just seems like a really violent person and he needs medical help,” Ellen said during a later interview.
This was Earle’s second expulsion from UK, and the second time he’s been charged with a criminal offense, court records show.
According to UK spokesman Jay Blanton, he first attended UK from 2011 to fall 2014, but was not allowed to continue to attend UK. Because of student privacy laws, the exact reason could not be revealed.
In 2015, Earle was charged with harassing communications after he allegedly began stalking and sending threatening text messages to Travis Courtney, a student that Earle had met at UK, police reports said.
Courtney was a concealed carry instructor and Earle had contacted him about buying an assault rifle and a pistol. After Courtney did not respond, Earle began sending him “berating” and “threatening” text messages which appear in the police report. Earle would tell Courtney that he was going to “deal” with him.
The texts Earle sent to Courtney suggest that he was stalking Courtney. In one text, Earle even described the cars in front of Courtney’s house. Such texts put Courtney “in fear of what (Earle) may do,” the police report said.
Before the case went to trial, the county reached an agreement with Earle, public records show.
After, Earle reapplied to UK as a Spanish major. Blanton said UK had “no basis to continue to deny admission as he met all conditions for readmission, including UK’s academic requirements.”
A risk for future students?
“The university knew all along that this guy had tried to obtain an assault weapon and a hand gun in a previous complaint…” Chuck Hyde, Ellen’s father, said. “The administration willfully handed that man my daughter’s name rather than their own university employee who was in the room.”
Chuck said that he didn’t want another student in the future to face the decision of, “Do I report the guy who threatened us all with death? But if I do, the university is going to give him my name.”
Ellen shares the same sentiment.
“I don’t want this to happen to future students with something so serious,” Ellen said. “That puts somebody at immediate risk.”
“Knowing what I know now,” Chuck said he wouldn’t have sent his daughter to UK.
“Take care of my little girl, take care of my little boy,” he said. “As a parent that’s the unspoken trust, the unspoken social contract between adults and what I’ve learned quickly is the University of Kentucky doesn’t respect that social contract.”