No charges for former teacher accused of lying to get students on film

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NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) – Despite finding widespread evidence that a former theater teacher used lies to convince students to be videotaped, Newport police have determined the actions were not criminal.

The Newport Police Department in August launched an investigation into Thomas Gleadow, a former Salve Regina University theater professor, after several current and former students accused him of asking them to perform on videos for a film project produced by his friend “Eric Feeley.”

Police have since interviewed 28 current and former students and determined that Gleadow lied about the film project, but his actions didn’t warrant any criminal charges at this time.

“It was discovered that ‘Eric Feeley’ was fictitious,” Newport police said in a statement this week. “After thorough investigation by the Newport police detectives, it was determined that there were no criminal charges and this case will be suspended pending any new developments or complaints.”

Gleadow, who has been fired from Salve Regina, could not be reached for comment.

The decision came as a letdown for Kat Witschen, a New York-based actor and singer, who spoke out publicly against Gleadow in August.

“I honestly am very disappointed,” Witschen said. “I can only hope people now know the truth about him and he is never in a position again where he can do this to anyone else.”  

In an August Facebook post, Witschen said she was 18 years old when her Salve Regina professor, Gleadow, asked if he could bind and gag her for a project his friend was working on in the film department.

“I trusted this professor,” Witschen said. “I wanted to impress him and show him that I was easy to work with and that I could be trusted so, of course, I said yes.”

What started as a photoshoot later turned into filming, Witschen explained. At one point Gleadow participated in the filming, she wrote he, “pretended to knock me out and even had gross dialogue.”

There were red flags and she left his home — where the video was shot — “feeling gross.”

“Again, he was the director and in charge of casting and my professor so I sucked it up and did it again against my better judgement,” she wrote. “I thought I was the only one and it felt horrible but what could I do? I was never undressed and he never tried anything else so what did it matter?”

Witschen said she decided to speak out after learning Gleadow had done the same to other students, and that the there was never any film production. After sharing the post on Facebook, she said dozens of others reached out with similar experiencing spanning over 40 years.

Salve Regina spokesperson Matt Boxler told Target 12 earlier this month Gleadow had been fired after “several young women came forward in August to first report their experiences to university staff.”

“Our hearts are with the Salve Regina students and alumni who have suffered from this experience as we take seriously our efforts to promote an environment free from all forms of abuse,” Boxler said in a statement. “The women who shared their experiences with appropriate university staff are to be commended. We encourage any Salve students or graduates who have experienced misconduct to reach out to the university or law enforcement.”

When asked Friday about the outcome of the police investigation, Boxler declined to comment further, “other than to reiterate our prior statement that our hearts are with the Salve Regina students and alumni who have suffered from this experience.”

For Witschen, she currently has no plans to pursue a civil case against Gleadow, but said “if the other survivors want to file a lawsuit, I will completely support them in any way I can.”

“I just don’t want him to do this to anyone else,” Witschen said.

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