ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The CEO of a prominent western North Carolina charity has returned an honorary degree amid renewed attention to a 1988 child sex offense plea.
Eblen Charities CEO William Murdock tells The Asheville Citizen-Times that he voluntarily returned the University of North Carolina Asheville degree last week. It's the first time a UNC Asheville honorary degree has been returned or rescinded.
Murdock blamed a former Eblen employee with whom he often clashed for the renewed attention. Murdock pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of taking indecent liberties with a 15-year-old girl who had been his student. He maintains they never had a sexual relationship, saying he took the plea agreement to avoid an expensive legal battle and possible felony conviction.
The newspaper couldn't reach the former student or her family.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com