A Pennsylvania judge ruled today that George Washington University Prof. Paul Arthur Crafton must stand trial on 16 charges of forgery, tampering with public records, theft by deception and false swearing stemming from his employment at Millersville State College near here under an assumed name.
District Court Justice Stella Caldwell set Aug. 3 as the arraignment date for the 59-year-old professor, turning aside pleas by Crafton's attorney John Pyfer that all except one forgery charge be dropped.
Crafton, former chairman of the GW engineering administraton department, was arrested March 21 as he walked across the Millersville campus. Shortly after his arrest, police learned Crafton held three simultaneous teaching jobs under three names, used at least 34 aliases and had established a complex network of international financial dealings that stretched from Maryland to Switzerland.
Today's hearing mirrored a proceeding earlier this month in Carlisle, Pa., stemming from Crafton's employment at Shippensburg State College, 75 miles from Lancaster. A Carlisle judge ruled Crafton must stand trial on 12 charges but threw out a charge of theft by deception after Pyfer argued Shippensburg got "a skillful professor."
Pyfer made a similar argument today. "The quid pro quo was that he Crafton was hired to teach; he taught; he taught satisfactorily. Therefore he was paid," said Pyfer during today's four-hour preliminary hearing.
Deputy Pennsylvania attorney general Kim Daniel refuted that, calling Crafton a "very intelligent, capable, crafty individual" who would "never have been paid one dime" had he not used an assumed name and the credentials of another person to win an associate professorship at Millersville State.
Flanked by his attorneys, his wife and 17-year-old handicapped daughter Laura Melanie, Crafton, who lives in Potomac, listened attentively as a parade of witnesses from Millersville testified they knew him as Peter Hector Pearse, an associate professor of business administration. The real Pearse is a forestry professor at the University of British Columbia.
Ramesh Bhatia, chairman of the economics and business administration department at Millersville, said he was eager to hire Crafton to boost his department's drive for accreditation.
Bhatia said Crafton submitted PhD credentials from the University of Edinburgh and several letters of recommendation from consulting firms in Washington and Baltimore. Prosecutors say Crafton wrote the letters himself and the corporations were fictitious.
"He said he wanted to come to a teaching institution," Bhatia said, adding that Crafton told him he'd turned down a teaching offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "And he said the Millersville location was good."
Crafton taught at Millersville from August 1982 until the date of his arrest. His salary was $28,000 a year, officials said.
Millersville provost Keith Lovin testified college officials decided last month to give the 217 students Crafton taught credit for the courses or the option to repeat courses for free.
So far, Lovin said, seven students have notified school officials that they plan to retake the courses.