A Central Connecticut State University professor who was promoted while in jail last year and arrested again last month has pleaded not guilty to a larceny charge.
Ravi Shankar, 40, an English professor at CCSU who has been suspended without pay, appeared in court on Wednesday on a fourth-degree larceny charge after being accused of returning merchandise he did not purchase at Home Depot in Middletown and receiving $1,339.75 in store credit.
He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court on Sept. 17.
As he left court on Wednesday, Shankar spoke of compassion and clarity for all creatures.
He said he is doing as well as could be expected given the circumstances and still plans on teaching because it's crucial as part of his existence and his calling. He said he will continue reaching out for help and plans to move forward with integrity.
Shankar did not appear for a prior court date. A judge at the time said Shankar had been admitted to an outpatient facility but did not say what for what.
Shankar was previously the subject of controversy when he was promoted to full-time status at CCSU while booked into jail in May 2014. At the time, he was waiting to face charges from an arrest in 2012.
“We have no comment on today’s court proceedings. Professor Ravi Shankar continues to be on administrative suspension without pay,” Mark McLaughlin, of Central Connecticut State University, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Shankar was previously arrested in December 2014 after crashing his car while driving with a suspended license, according to police. He was charged with several motor vehicle violations and pleaded not guilty.
A state lawmaker previously has called for Shankar's termination.
"This inaction by your office prompted legislation to be proposed dealing with the conduct of professors 'outside' the classroom," State Sen. Kevin Witkos wrote in a letter to CCSU President Jack Miller. "As stated by several members of the Higher Education and Employment Committee, we have concerns that someone who has committed these types of crimes is allowed to continue as a professor in our University System. We view this as a safety issue and a role modeling issue."
He called Shankar "unfit to discharge his professional responsibilities" due to "his continuous disregard for the law."
Shankar previously called the incident at Home Depot a misunderstanding and told officers they were "taking (employees') word for it," according to the police report.
"The facts of this matter have not been accurately reported and I am glad to live in a society where there is a presumption of innocence," Shankar said in a previous email to NBC Connecticut. "I look forward to my day in court and in the meantime ask that you might respect me and my family's privacy. Thank you for your understanding."