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Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Part-time professor arrested for strangulation among other charges

James Begley, part-time professor of communications and English, was arrested on Feb. 14 for several charges including strangulation.
Photo by Courtesy of ResearchGate
James Begley, part-time professor of communications and English, was arrested on Feb. 14 for several charges including strangulation.


Part-time professor of communications and English James Begley was arrested last month on Feb. 14, according to a police report.


Begley, who has worked at the university since 2016, was charged with strangulation, unlawful restraint causing serious bodily injury, endangering the welfare of children and simple assault of a victim under 12 and a defendant 18 or older. 


Begley, 37, has taught college composition, oral communication and communication law. Due to his mid-year arrest, his courses for this semester have been replaced by other professors, according to several students.


Lou Corsaro, director of public relations for the university, said he could not clarify Begley’s employment status.


“Point Park University’s HR policies are not released to the public,” Corsaro said in an email to The Globe. “Per that policy, employee information is restricted to authorized Point Park University employees or agents with a business reason to access it.”


Currently, Begley’s name is not listed under staff or faculty on the university’s website. 


Justin Okun, Begley’s lawyer, said that these charges are “standard” to custody disputes, which several students stated to The Globe that Begley openly talked about in his classes.


Alyssa Hughes, a freshman funeral services major who had Begley for college composition this semester, said Begley would give “very” personal details about his child custody case and even showed private emails between him and his lawyer to the entire class. She said she “dreaded” going to his class and that she even comforted Begley during a one-on-one meeting to go over an essay as he was “going to cry.”


Hughes also said when they were leaving class on Wednesday, Feb. 14, they and another person witnessed Begley being escorted out of West Penn by an officer. Lieutenant Matthew Mays confirmed to The Globe that the City of Pittsburgh called Point Park Public Safety about a warrant for Begley’s arrest. Public Safety then escorted Begley off campus where Pittsburgh Police then handcuffed and formally arrested Begley. 


Later that day, Hughes said she got an email about their professor being changed to Amy Hartzell, a professor in the literature, culture and society and communications departments since last fall, and that their grades and work before the change would no longer count. She said she has been “very stressed” about the class since.


“I think the whole situation is crazy, and I can’t believe he was allowed to teach; he made me very uncomfortable,” Hughes said. “I don’t think the university did a very good job when letting him teach part-time. If they let this one come through, how many other teachers are taking advantage of students to act like a therapist?”


Zoe Wright, a freshman forensic psychology major who had Begley last fall for honors oral communication, said Begley would often share stories about his personal life but carried himself “professionally.”


“During the fall semester, he was finding a new apartment and told us about that and what his daughter thought of it,” Wright said. “I remember him mentioning his daughter’s mom but not saying anything about her not having custody.”


In 2017, Begley was charged with two counts of harassment. He pled guilty and received one-year probation for each charge in 2021. This case is closed. 


Begley also filed a civil complaint in 2020 against the Roosevelt Arms apartment complex Downtown, which was withdrawn.


Wright said she was very shocked when she heard about Begley’s arrest.


“You don’t really expect someone of that profession to be caught up in something like this,” Wright said. “I do think the university should’ve sent something to students who had him this year because it could prevent rumors from spreading. I’ve already experienced misinformation flying around… and I think if the university had addressed the situation, this could’ve been prevented.”


Wright said the situation made her “slightly alarmed” about the university’s background check protocol but that “a minor conflict with the law should not necessarily prevent someone from getting a job years later.”


Emma Fitzgerald, a junior psychology major who has never had Begley for a class, said she is “conflicted” about the entire situation.


“I feel as though it might have been helpful for the university to send out a message, at least the students who have or had him in class, but I also see how until everything is finalized it may be a bit complicated,” Fitzgerald said. 


Begley’s lawyer, Okun, said that he expects all charges to be dismissed.


“After all arguments are presented at court, I and my client firmly believe that all charges will be dismissed,” Okun said. 


Begley was released on nonmonetary bail, which could include restrictions of travel and any other appropriate conditions deemed by the court, and is set to have a formal arraignment on April 17. 

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