Bennett: USM employee accused of accessing co-workers' personal data

mhalford@sunherald.com Twitter: MaryMargaretSHJune 25, 2014 

HATTIESBURG -- An investigation has been launched into allegations a University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus employee accessed personal information of other employees on the campus.

"At 4 p.m. yesterday, I received a briefing from the University Police Department," USM President Rodney Bennett said in an email to faculty and staff Wednesday morning, "at which time I was informed that an individual has violated the trust the University of Southern Mississippi places in its employees. "

Bennett said the staff member has resigned. That person is accused of "inappropriate activity," and University Police Department investigators are trying to determine if criminal charges will be brought.

University Police Capt. Rusty Keyes said his office received a complaint and moved forward from there.

"It's past activity, it's not currently going on," he said. "I'm just gathering information and trying to reconstruct the past, trying to put this thing together and see where we need to go."

Keyes said he couldn't say exactly how many people were affected.

"It's several," he said. "That's the word I want to use right now."

University police have contacted employees whose information was involved.

In the email, Bennett reminded faculty and staff to "be vigilant" about keeping up with personal account information. He also said there wasn't much more he could say about the investigation.

"My goal as president, and our goal at USM, is transparency. With that said, this is early in the process of an active investigation," he said. "While we will try to communicate as much information as we can, the integrity of the investigation will be a priority. What we can say for certain is that the actions of the former employee are not acceptable and will not be tolerated at the University of Southern Mississippi."

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