An associate dean at the University of South Florida has admitted to taking a student's bicycle this week in an act that was captured on a surveillance tape.
Abdul Rao, who oversees research grants for the College of Medicine, was suspended Thursday while campus officials investigate.
In a statement, Rao apologized Friday and said he was trying to help a day laborer who needed transportation.
"I deeply regret this failure in judgment and the unfortunate attention it has generated….," he wrote to USF officials.
"I gave a man who does odd jobs for me permission to use a bicycle that was parked at the center.
I acted out of compassion for this nearly homeless man; but I failed to consider that the bicycle belonged to someone on our Alzheimer's team.
It was a terrible lapse in judgment on my part; I have no excuse. I can only say that my intention was never to bring harm, alarm, or disruption to anyone."
The bicycle has been returned, but the owner has not been identified.
USF spokesman Michael Hoad said the bicycle was reported stolen on Tuesday, but police did not see the surveillance tape, which showed Rao and a man taking the bicycle from a loading dock, until Wednesday.
The tape shows a woman riding up to a loading dock at the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute and parking her bicycle against a railing at about 7:50 Monday night.
About an hour later, a minivan pulls up to the loading dock and Rao and a man get out. They look through some bikes near the railing, pick one and leave with it in the minivan.
Hoad said he didn't know how the tape made it onto YouTube. He said that is not the university's top concern.
"I don't particularly care, surveillance video is not protected unless it's part of an investigation...It would eventually become public."
Rao was not charged with a crime since the bicycle was returned, Hoad said.
In a letter to the faculty and staff of the Byrd Institute, Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF College of Medicine wrote, "I'm very sorry to hear of the bicycle incident this week at the Byrd Institute loading dock, and I apologize to everyone involved.
I will write again when the USF review is completed.
Until then Dr. Abdul Rao will be on annual leave."
Tags: Dean, USF, steal, stealing, student, police, cops, cctv, security, surveillance, caught, cam, tape, bicycle
Location: Tampa, Florida, United States (load item map)
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