Former Hanover employee: 'I reported banned professor's behavior years ago'

Former Hanover employee: 'I reported banned professor's behavior years ago'
Stark is no longer allowed on the Hanover campus. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
James 'Jim' Stark (Source: Jefferson County, Indiana Jail)
James 'Jim' Stark (Source: Jefferson County, Indiana Jail)
Former colleague Rebecca Trout said she reported Stark's threats in 2016. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former colleague Rebecca Trout said she reported Stark's threats in 2016. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

HANOVER, IN (WAVE) - A Hanover College professor charged with making threats against a hospital will not immediately get his weapons back.

Police seized weapons from Jim Stark's home in February after family members reported his strange and erratic behavior. A former colleague of Stark's told us the college knew about his behavior as early as 2016.

"I just, am really afraid for everyone's safety and I just don't want to see anything tragic happen," Rebecca Trout, a former employee at Hanover College who worked in the theater department with Stark, said. She told us she recently quit her job at the college over fears of Stark.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Hanover College professor charged with intimidation

"Basically, I didn't feel safe," Trout said.

She began reporting Stark's erratic behavior to her supervisors in 2016. She showed us emails with responses sent to and from her superiors at the college, including some where college leaders acknowledge odd behaviors from Stark.

Trout said the behavior is something students notice, too. She told us about a time in 2016 when a student said Stark called him in the night to ask him to help him commit suicide.

In an audio recording taken in one of Stark's classes, a man that sounds like Stark confirmed the school subjected him to a dismissal proceeding in the summer of 2017, but said President Lake Lambert wanted him to quit. Trout said the voice played is clearly Stark's.

"He's a coward, he's a p***k," the man in the recording said. "And he won't even talk to me because he's afraid."

Both President Lambert and Steve Jobe from Hanover College recently filed workplace violence protection orders against Stark.

Stark is now banned from campus -- his employment suspended.

"It's very frustrating because you know, I've often been concerned not just for my own personal safety but for the safety of my students," Trout said.

She worries about them now on campus and for herself, still living in the same small town as Stark.

Students received a notification telling them Stark was no longer allowed on campus. Sophomore Lukas Johns said his primary concern wasn't about the professor.

"My primary concern wasn't actually about Jim Stark but rather the president of the college and the fact that he refused to take action until he personally felt threatened, rather than the students, the professors and the families at the school feeling threatened," Johns said.

Trout told us she's glad the school is finally taking action but is frustrated it didn't come until this impacted college leaders.

In February, police seized weapons at Stark's home, including an AR-15, after his brother reported his behavior to police when Stark said "some people and their kids need to die."

In a signed agreement, both sides agreed Tuesday that police would keep the weapons seized from Stark's home until a hearing in June. Prosecutor David Sutter said this will better protect the community against a potentially dangerous person.

"Certainly based on all the information we've received, we do have those concerns which is why we seized the weapons," Sutter said. "We certainly felt it was in the best information of community safety to retain the firearms at this time."

Sutter said they're still weighing the possibility of bringing more charges against Stark for the alleged threats.

Stark and his attorney didn't answer questions Tuesday.

WAVE 3 News reached out to Hanover College Tuesday about Stark's employment history with the school following the agreement that police keep Stark's weapons. We have not yet received a reply.

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.