Professor arrested for alleged Fort Myers sexual assault

Posted at 1:33 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-19 08:49:56-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A Florida International University professor is now charged in an alleged sexual assault that reportedly happened inside his Fort Myers home.

69-year-old David Ralston, a business professor at FIU in Miami, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, with the help of Lee County Sheriff's deputies.

According to marshals, a housekeeper he reportedly hired off Craigslist claims he assaulted her at his Gleneagle Court home in McGregor Woods after he gave her a drink that caused her to pass out.

The victim told LCSO that after accepting a drink from Ralston on April 29th, she felt disoriented and passed out.  She was later found incoherent in Ralston's driveway before she reported the sexual assault.

On May 1st, a warranted search of Ralston's home revealed home security system video that reportedly captured the assault. Fox 4 asked his attorney about the video. "These cases are very complex, they take a lot of time, a lot of effort, there's a lot of depth to them. Until we get into it, this is not the time to comment on that," said Sawyer Smith, of Wilbur Smith Attorneys at Law.

Five days later, investigators contacted Ralston and his attorney to get him to surrender but he refused.  A warrant was issued for his arrest on June 10th. Smith told Fox 4 Ralston was not evading police. "We were working with the State Attorney's office. I think this was a case where the warrant came out before we had an opportunity to be notified and they went and picked him up."

After surveillance of his home in Weston turned up nothing, Ralston was located at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale and arrested.  He is charged with Sexual Battery When Victim Helpless.

Ralston will be transferred to Lee County in coming weeks.

Ralston's neighbor reacted with disbelief.  "Shocked, I didn't believe it. I thought it had to be a misunderstanding."

Ralston's house is now boarded up and some are questioning how this could've happened in their upscale community. One neighbor says Ralston was, "Very friendly outgoing, outspoken, always saying ‘Hi’ and willing to lend a hand and to help somebody out." 

FIU students are in shock.  "I would have never imagined one of our professors would do something like that, I mean that's crazy," says Gustavo Valdez.

Another student reacted saying, "To hear something like that is unfortunate and disappointing that somebody like that could be hired at a place like this."

Representatives at FIU tell Fox 4 they're aware of Ralston's arrest, and they sent him a notice of plans to suspend him.