A former MU assistant research professor has been accused of sexually abusing someone after forcing drinks on the victim, according to a probable cause statement by Columbia police.

The suspect, Henok Woldu, 36, pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree sexual abuse last Wednesday via electronic court filing. He waived formal arraignment Monday in Boone County Circuit Court.

The charge is related to a reported sexual assault that took place April 6, 2019, after the victim had been socializing with the suspect at an unnamed place. The victim told police that the suspect persuaded them to go to a “dance club” in the Tiger Hotel where the victim was encouraged to drink more and then suddenly felt incapacitated.

A security guard’s body camera footage examined later showed the victim being removed from the bathroom and then leaving with the suspect. The victim had clearly been vomiting and needed help standing and walking, according to the probable cause statement.

The victim told police the suspect took the victim to his home and assaulted them while they were incapacitated, according to the probable cause statement.

The statement also describes the victim secretly recording a conversation with the suspect in which he says he knew the victim was incapacitated and admitted to the sexual abuse. He told the victim what had happened was “human nature” and implied the victim “should be grateful” the incident had not ended in rape.

The statement said the suspect “hung out in the local bars often with students.”

Woldu formerly worked as a research assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics and as a biostatistician in the office of Medical Research at MU. He was employed from Aug. 1, 2018, through Dec. 13, 2019, according to MU spokesperson Christian Basi.

However, Woldu’s biographical page was still accessible on the School of Medicine’s website early Monday. Later in the day, it became password-protected. However, as of Monday afternoon, his name is still in the MU online directory.

Basi declined to provide any further information about Woldu in an email Monday.

  • Public safety and health reporter, spring 2020 I am studying investigative journalism and political science. Reach me at danielleduclos@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • I'm the public safety and health editor at the Missourian and a professor in the School of Journalism. I'm experienced in directing investigative projects. Call me at (573) 882-1792 with story tips, ideas or complaints.

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