BY KATY BURNELL
On Tuesday, former University President William J. Frawley pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Fredericksburg. He faces another drunk-driving charge tomorrow in Fairfax County.
The Fredericksburg District Court Judge suspended Frawley’s license for one year, fined him $500 plus court costs and referred him to state-run substance abuse counseling.
Judge John R. Stevens followed a recommendation by Commonwealth’s attorney Charles Sharp and dropped a lesser charge against Frawley as part of a plea deal.
Frawley did not comment during the four-minute hearing. His attorney, Philip Sasser, entered an Alford plea on Frawley’s behalf.
According to Sharp, an Alford plea differs slightly from a guilty plea.
“[Frawley] was saying that the evidence against him was sufficient to convict him,” Sharp said. “It’s as close as you can come to pleading guilty without actually pleading guilty.”
Sharp said that even though Frawley’s Fairfax County accident occurred one day before his arrest in Fredericksburg, Frawley could be tried as a repeat offender tomorrow.
“He is eligible,” Sharp said.
When asked whether Tuesday’s conviction would likely impact the Fairfax trial, Sharp said it was possible, but not likely.
“It could come into play,” Sharp said. “Most likely it will not. Based on my understanding [the prosecutor] won’t seek to try this as a second offense.”
Sharp declined to comment further, saying only that there were “complicating factors” in the prosecution’s case. Defense attorney Paul Greenspun, who will represent Frawley in court on Friday, did not return calls seeking comment.
Frawley’s Fairfax County charge stems from an April 10 single-vehicle accident. Frawley told Fairfax police that he flipped a brand-new UMW-owned Toyota Avalon while driving home from a conference at his son’s school.
Same-day testing performed at Inova-Fairfax hospital revealed Frawley’s blood alcohol content was .21 percent, or 2.5 times the legal limit, according to several media reports.
Of the nine bottles police recovered from Frawley’s Avalon, two were tested and found to contain alcohol concentrations of 2.7 percent and 12.4 percent.
Frawley left the hospital against doctor’s orders early in the morning on April 11 and drove to Fredericksburg. Later that day a driver alerted the Fredericksburg police department when she saw a car with three wheels veering into oncoming traffic on the Chatham Bridge.
Fredericksburg police apprehended Frawley a few minutes later driving without a right front tire outside of his Brompton home. The arresting officer’s report indicated that Frawley was severely impaired and bleeding from a head wound at the time of his arrest.
Two University employees who spoke with Frawley earlier that morning were subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify at Tuesday’s hearing, but neither of them showed up.
Frawley’s former secretary, Amy Anderson, who still works in the President’s office, said that Sharp informed her on Monday that a plea had been arranged and she would not need to testify.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles Sharp said that Frawley’s behavior on April 11 can be attributed to the six bottles of Vick’s cough syrup he consumed after leaving Fairfax-Inova hospital.
Speaking to reporters outside of the District courthouse on Tuesday, Sharp said that he could not speak to whether or not Frawley suffers from a substance-abuse problem.
“I wish I knew,” Sharp said.
Sharp did say that Frawley’s medical records, which were sealed during Tuesday’s proceedings, did little to explain the heart condition blamed for the ousted President’s behavior in the wake of his arrests.
The only University employees present at Tuesday’s hearing were Teresa Mannix and Neva Trenis of the University Relations and Publications department and Vice President for Enrollment and Communications, Marty Wilder. There were no students or faculty members in attendance.
Frawley spent the minutes leading up to his hearing alone, seated in the second row scribbling notes onto a legal pad. He was not accompanied by friends or family members.
Acting President Rick Hurley, who assumed Frawley’s duties after the Board of Visitors terminated him “for cause” at the end of April, said he was eating lunch at the Eagle’s Nest with Student Government President Krishna Sinha when Wilder called from the courthouse to tell him the verdict.
“I’d almost forgotten what day it was,” Hurley said.
SGA President Krishna Sinha’s observations about students’ opinions reflect Hurley’s sentiments.
“I don’t think students were even aware that [the trial] was going on,” Sinha said. “I mean, he doesn’t work here anymore. People are done with it. There’s not really anything more to say.”
Hurley said he chose not to attend the trial because he had “more important things to do.”
The Rector of the Board of Visitors, Bill Poole, said that the University would not make a statement regarding the outcome of Frawley’s court hearings.
Poole said that he did not feel it would be appropriate for him to comment on the case.
“That’s his personal business,” Poole said. “We resolved our issue with him when we made our decision in April.”
Hurley also declined to comment on the outcome of the case.
“My heart goes out to him and his family,” Hurley said. “That’s my official statement, and my personal reaction.”