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USF director placed on paid leave for prior conduct at Texas Tech

Samuel Bradley’s conduct at USF is being investigated. 
Samuel Bradley’s conduct at USF is being investigated. 
Published Mar. 25, 2016

The director of the University of South Florida's advertising and communications school was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after a report emerged that he had intimate relations with three students at his previous job at Texas Tech University.

According to a Texas Tech report, Samuel Bradley admitted in 2009 to exchanging sexual text messages with a graduate student and kissing her. Married at the time, Bradley promised he would stop the relationship. But it and two others, including one with an undergraduate, continued through at least August 2012.

Bradley, 42, earns nearly $150,000 as a tenured associate professor, according to his USF personnel file. Now divorced, he was hired in 2013 as a visiting professor, months after resigning his position at Texas Tech. The resume on file does not list references, nor does his file include any.

Bradley did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Art Ramirez, an associate professor in the Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications, was named acting director Thursday. Meanwhile, a faculty committee began investigating Bradley's conduct while at USF.

After the Tampa Tribune first published details of the Texas Tech report on Wednesday, USF released a statement from Eric Eisenberg, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, expressing confidence in the communications department and denying knowledge of Bradley's conduct at Texas Tech.

"On (Wednesday) we learned of information regarding a current employee of the school," Eisenberg said. "This information was not disclosed during the hiring process, either by the employee or the employee's former employer. Now that the university has this information, it will be carefully reviewed and an appropriate response will be determined."

An executive committee met Thursday, and called a broader meeting for 10 a.m. Friday to "discuss this situation and its ramifications," according to an email sent to faculty from Wayne Garcia, associate director.

"We just thought it was necessary to give us all a chance to talk and ask questions," Garcia wrote.

It's the latest setback for a communications department in flux. Bradley was the fifth director since Edward Jay Friedlander retired in 2010; Friedlander had served for 15 years.

Now officials find themselves scrutinizing Bradley's conduct not only at Texas Tech but also at USF.

The Texas Tech report details three intimate relationships with female students. At a conference in Chicago in May 2009, Bradley stayed in a female graduate student's room despite having his own room with a male student. Bradley bragged about having sex with the female student to his roommate.

In the spring of 2012, Bradley traveled alone with an undergraduate female student to present a paper at a conference.

Other faculty members told Texas Tech investigators that they were concerned about the undergraduate traveling alone with Bradley, and that they had never heard of the conference.

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Bradley later told the male student that on the second night of the conference, he "kissed her on the neck and she went for it." He made comments like "she tastes so good," and expressed fears about trying certain sexual positions with her because she was much smaller than Bradley.

Shortly thereafter, Bradley was asked to resign as the chair of the advertising department.

As of Thursday, USF officials had yet to identify any misconduct at the Tampa campus.

But there's already a red flag. It involves another conference.

Last spring, Bradley told his supervisor he was going to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to present at the International Communication Association conference.

But Bradley was never scheduled to give a presentation, according to conference officials. His social media accounts indicate that, on the weekend of the conference, Bradley and a young woman visited a sex shop called Condom World, a seven-minute walk from the hotel USF was paying for him to reside.

The trip would be part of the USF investigation, said university spokesman Adam Freeman.

Expense reports show Bradley received about $1,800 in reimbursements from USF to travel to the International Communication Association conference in San Juan last May.

Bradley stated multiple times in these reports that the purpose of his travel was to present at the conference. Yet his name doesn't appear in the 311-page conference program.

Reached by phone Thursday, ICA executive director Laura Sawyer said Bradley did not present at the conference, nor was he scheduled to.

"He registered in advance for the conference but we don't know whether people actually show up or not," Sawyer said.

On May 24, Bradley's last night in San Juan, he posted a photo to his Instagram account from Condom World.

"Last night #selfie," Bradley captioned the photo, which depicts him and a young woman. In a Twitter post, he referred to the woman as "my lady." They are holding strands of her blond hair up in pursed lips, like mustaches.

That same month, he was appointed director.

Contact Lisa Gartner at lgartner@tampabay.com. Follow her on Twitter @lisagartner.

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