Former Texas Law School Dean Arrested on Prostitution Charges

John B. Attanasio
John B. Attanasio SMU faculty photo

The former dean of the South Methodist Law School (SMU), John Attanasio, 60, was arrested early Sunday morning, February 1, on prostitution charges. Currently, he serves as Judge William Hawley Atwell Chair of Constitutional Law and he is a Professor of Law.

The local ABC-TV news affiliate in Dallas, WFAA-8, reported that Attanasio was booked into the Collin County Jail and released on $500 bond.

He was charged with a Class B misdemeanor, according to the Dallas Morning News, which reported that Attanasio was arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, according to booking information provided by the Collin County Sheriff’s Department. A Texas DPS spokesman told the news outlet that the arrest was part of an ongoing investigation. No further information was released.

In addition to his post as Constitutional Law Chair, Attanasio is a professor in the Dedman School of Law. He served three terms as the SMU Law School Dean from 1998 to 2013 when the law school declined to renew his contract with SMU. As dean of SMU, Attanasio raised over $115 million in gifts and pledges, increased the book value of the school’s endowment by more than $30 million, and increased the median GPA and the average LSAT scores of the entering classes, the SMU Daily Campus reported.

The decision not to renew Attanasio’s contract created a “significant backlash” from the faculty, financial supporters, and the school’s executive committee at that time the Dallas Morning News noted.

Breitbart Texas spoke with Lynn Dempsey, spokeswoman for SMU Dedman School of Law, who provided comment in a written statement. It read: “In accordance with university policy, SMU does not comment on matters under active investigation by area police.”

It also stated that “Professor Attanasio will not teach his class this week.”

The brief statement clarified university policy in moving forward with this matter. It read, “SMU will gather information and follow University procedure to determine any appropriate action under its policy in such matters.”

Breitbart Texas also spoke with Jay Miller, editor of the SMU daily campus newspaper. He said that this matter caught them off guard. They, in fact, learned about Attanasio’s arrest late Sunday night on WFAA-TV.  Regarding student reaction to the news on campus, Miller said, “We haven’t sensed any campus reaction at this point.”

Miller pointed out that Attanasio was located in the law school, which is a graduate school and is somewhat isolated from the undergraduate population. He pondered that the mood might become very different “over there” among the law school student population as the news becomes more widely known.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.