A professor and six students at Northern Kentucky University were charged with uprooting 400 crosses meant to represent fetuses in an anti-abortion display, prosecutors said.

Professor Sally Jacobsen and six students face misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking, prosecutor Justin Verst said. Jacobsen is also charged with encouraging students to participate in the destruction, Verst said.

The crosses were pulled from the ground and thrown in trash cans around campus on April 12.

The temporary display had been approved by university officials as an expression of free speech.

Jacobsen, who teaches in the literature and language department, told The Kentucky Enquirer that she considered it intimidating to women who might be considering abortions.

She will plead not guilty, said her attorney, Margo Grubbs.

"She never wanted to harm her university or her students at all," Grubbs said.

Jacobsen was put on leave last week and will retire at the semester's end. Disciplinary action against the students will be decided after the court process is complete, said Kent Kelso, NKU's dean of students.

A court date was set for May 11.