Former UNT employee a suspect in string of sexual assaults

Former UNT employee a suspect in string of sexual assaults

Former UNT employee a suspect in string of sexual assaults
June 16
14:51 2017

James Norman | News Editor

Julia Contarelli | Design Editor

A former UNT employee thought to be involved in the string of sexual assaults around the campus was arrested on June 2 and has since confessed to three of the instances under investigation, according to officials.

Earl Leroy Thompson, a former crew leader in custodial facilities, was arrested and charged with five counts of burglary of habitation with intent to commit felony. He is currently being held at the Denton County Jail with a bond of $525,000.

“He was a custodial services staff member in the facilities maintenance department from September 2013 to May 2017,” said Kelley Reese, associate vice president of the UNT media relations department.

Reese stated in an email Thompson had been assigned to 11 different buildings, including the North Texas Lofts, Eagle Student Service Center, Chestnut Hall, Chilton Hall and Sycamore Hall. Thompson had custodial master keys, which provide access to all buildings except Residence Halls.

“He supervised the staff that cleaned those buildings,” Reese stated in an email. “The work entailed daily cleaning assignments, project work and filling in for custodians when they were out.”

According to his arrest affidavit, Thompson worked unsupervised during overnight hours, blocks from the locations where the sexual assaults took place.

Shane Kizer, the Denton Police Department’s public information officer, said the department informed UNT about Thompson being a person of interest in an investigation. By the end of May his employment was terminated at UNT.

Thompson’s termination letter, obtained by the North Texas Daily, says he was fired on May 19 for not being at his assigned work station, despite having been counseled. This was also the case on May 9.

The first contact between Thompson and police happened on May 9 after Denton PD received a call about a man walking and running from one end of an apartment building at 1700 West Hickory St. to the other end. Thompson matched the description and had similar clothing to the suspect.

According to affidavit, investigators began surveilling Thompson at night beginning May 16.

“Normally we look at who would have the opportunity, who might have a background to do that,” Kizer said. “Through the investigation he became a person of interest.”

Texas DPS Laboratory sent a notification stating DNA recovered from two sexual assaults in February and May were identical.

The Union Man

While an employee at UNT, Thompson was the subject of a short film titled “The Union Man,” a film made by a graduate student that documented the life and work of a custodian. The film won an award and was screened at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival.

It has since been taken off The North Texan’s website due to the criminal charges currently facing Thompson, Reese said.

In a red-carpet interview with Selig Film News, a Dallas-based film publication, Thompson and Bobby Lewis, the director of the film, spoke about making the film.

“I met him the day before we started shooting the film,” Lewis said. “It supports my idea that everybody has a story. He is a testament to the greatness.”

Selig Film News described the film as capturing the “inexplicable subtleties that one faces while engaged in work that is often taken for granted.

Lewis could not be reached for comment at this time. In the 2014 interview he described Thompson as an accessible and nice guy.

According to Denton County jail record, Thompson had no prior charges to the ones he is currently facing.

Along with the five counts in Denton, he is also being investigated by the Dallas Police Department for sexually assaulting two prostitutes.

Renee McNamara, the survivor advocate for UNT, offers help through counseling and connecting students to other resources.

“A student who has been impacted by violence is not alone,” McNamara said in an email. “I am here to help.”

McNamara can be reached through her email, survivoradvocate@unt.edu, as well as the Dean of Students office, at 940-565-2648.

Featured Image: File

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James Norman

James Norman

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