Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bicycle owner says USF dean wants bike theft charges dropped

TAMPA — The owner of the bicycle that University of South Florida vice president Abdul Rao is accused of taking said Saturday that Rao asked him not to press charges and tell police it was a misunderstanding.

"He was trying to get me to lie to the police," doctoral student Tim Boyd said. "It couldn't have been a misunderstanding because I had never had a conversation with him."

A surveillance video, now posted on YouTube, shows Rao accompanying another man to the loading docks at the Johnnie B. Byrd Alzheimer's Center & Research Institute on Monday night.

In the video, Rao's companion, Victor Waiters, who Rao says is a semi-homeless man who does odd jobs for him, walks a bike down a ramp, and later the minivan the two arrived in drives away.

After the video was shown to police Wednesday, bike owner Boyd said he was summoned for a closed-door meeting in Rao's office. "He wanted me to tell the cops it was just a misunderstanding," Boyd said.

Boyd said he thought it was odd that Rao spoke to him after the surveillance was released, instead of shortly after the bike was taken Monday night. A missing bike report was filed with campus police Tuesday.

Rao has said he was simply trying to help a man down on his luck. He said he thought the bikes had been abandoned and that Waiters was going to bring it back.

On Saturday, Rao said he never asked Boyd to lie. "I told him 'I'm sorry. This is a misunderstanding,' " he said. "And, if you can, consider dropping the charges."

Boyd doesn't plan to.

Instead, he said he hopes Rao loses his position at USF, where he holds several titles, including senior associate vice president for research. Rao is already taking paid annual leave from his USF post, which nets him $384,280 annually.

Their stories also diverge when it comes to the question of whether the bike was locked.

The surveillance video shows undergraduate student Christine Dillingham, 22, leaning the bike — which Boyd loaned to her about two weeks ago — against a rail in the loading dock. She said she locked the bike securely with a coil lock, although that's unclear in the video because it's at the edge of the screen.

"I always make sure it's locked," she said, adding that the coil circled the frame.

Rao said that the bike wasn't locked. He said he thought it was abandoned, along with other bikes in the loading dock.

But Dillingham said there's no way someone could have thought it was abandoned, because the bike looked new, was locked and had only been brought to the docks for about two weeks.

"It's not like the bike just sits there collecting dust. There's nothing abandoned about it," she said.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 661-2443.

Bicycle owner says USF dean wants bike theft charges dropped 02/14/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 14, 2009 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Estimated 5,000 people marvel at MOSI over solar eclipse

    Human Interest

    Packing pinhole cereal box viewers, cardboard glasses and curiosity, solar gawkers gathered outside Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry on Monday for a show that required no ticket.

    At center, Sophia Butter, 8, and Kristina Butera, both of Valrico, watch the sun through eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. MOSI will reopen after renovations on November 18. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  3. Tampa officer treated for knee injury after police truck, police SUV collide


    Times staff

    TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was treated and released for a knee injury when his unmarked police truck collided with a patrol SUV while the officers were tracking a stolen car, a police spokesman said.

  4. Waiting for the eclipse: 'Everyone thinks this is cool'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Holland came to school Monday with a NASA space T-shirt and solar viewers in his button-up shirt pocket. But he'd rather be in Missouri.

    Jayda Hebert (front, center), 11, uses her protective glasses to watch Monday's solar eclipse with her cousin, Judah Adams (back left), 11, and her brother Jake Hebert (right), 9, while with their family at St. Petersburg Beach. "We're skipping school for the eclipse," her mom, Sarah Hebert, said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Second person resigns from Hillsborough diversity council after Confederate activist appointed


    TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel. 

    Two people have resigned from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the inclusion of David McCallister, a leader of the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.