LEWISTON – Days after Bates College professor Linda Williams was charged with distributing crack and cocaine, officials at the small liberal arts college sent out an e-mail reminding the entire staff that Williams should be presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

Meanwhile, friends and colleagues of the 50-year-old assistant music professor said they were still stunned by the news of her arrest Friday night.

“I just want to give her a hug and tell her that I am here to support her,” said John Corrie, director of the college’s choir.

“It’s still really fresh for all of us who worked with her,” said Phillip Carlsen, a visiting music professor at Bates. “It is absolutely shocking.”

Carlsen and others described Williams as a dedicated teacher and talented musician.

“She has always given herself to her job and to her students,” said Spanish professor Baltasar Fra-Molinero. “Her professional dedication and ethics are very high.”

A professor at Bates since 1996, Williams has been accused of running a drug operation with two men who moved to Maine from Jamaica. She has been charged with one count of conspiring to distribute crack and cocaine and two counts of distributing crack and cocaine.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine.

Williams was released from Cumberland County Jail Tuesday after posting $25,000 bail, the amount set by a federal judge at her initial appearance in U.S. District Court Monday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will now present the case to a federal grand jury. If Williams is charged, she will reappear in the Portland courthouse to enter her plea.

Her lawyer, Neria Douglass, said that Williams will plead innocent to the charges.

“She has had a very full and rewarding career and I expect that career will continue,” Douglass said.

Williams could not be reached Wednesday.

At the time of her arrest, she had finished teaching for the year and she was preparing for a trip to South Africa to do research for a book on female African-American musicians.

She received a Fulbright Fellowship for the trip, but it likely will be canceled because her bail conditions bar her from leaving Maine.

A Bates College spokesman said officials had not made any decision about Williams’ employment.

In an e-mail sent Tuesday to the faculty, Dean of Faculty Jill Reich listed the charges facing Williams and asked people not to jump to conclusions.

“This is too serious a matter about which to speculate,” Reich wrote. “We need to be mindful of the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved.”

Fra-Molinero learned about his colleague’s arrest on Saturday. It didn’t take long, he said, for the rumors to start.

“It is all very, very strange,” he said. “I keep reminding myself that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

Fra-Molinero met Williams several years ago at Indiana University, where she was studying for her Ph.D in music and he was getting his doctoral degree in Spanish literature.

They stayed in touch through mutual friends over the years and became reacquainted when Williams was hired to teach at Bates.

“She is a wonderful teacher, a very, very dedicated scholar, a true professional and just a wonderful person,” Fra-Molinero said. “That is how I will always see her.”



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