Rust Faces Federal Sexual Abuse Charges

A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Rust College, stemming from an allegation of rape against former faculty member Sylvester Oliver.

A website,, recently went live and provides details on the suit, filed on Aug. 28, against what attorneys for the plaintiff call, “an environment that allows the sexual abuse of students and allows perpetrators to get away with the abuse.”

The lawsuits cites one alleged female victim, but says several students have come forward with information or personal accounts of abuse by Dr. Oliver, other faculty members, and knowledge of the alleged assaults by college administrators, including college president David Beckley.

According to the filing, Dr. Oliver resigned as a faculty member at Rust in the early 2000’s after allegations of an “inappropriate relationship” with a female student. He is accused of having raped a female Rust student in September 2012, coincidentally, six years after being fired by Memphis City Schools as a teacher and indicted for rape of a 16-year-old female student, and rehired by Rust shortly thereafter.

Rust officials say they stand by the schools record of safety and concern for students, but would not directly comment in other outlets on the details of the suit. From Courthouse News:

“Safety of our students is a primary concern of our college,” (Rust VP Ishmell) Edwards said. “We are very proud of our record and we will continue to focus on serving our students while maintaining the safety of our campus community.”