Penn State professor placed on leave following kidnapping allegations

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An assistant professor at a Penn State branch campus was placed on administrative leave after Pittsburgh police arrested him Saturday on kidnapping charges.

Two women told Pittsburgh police they entered a vehicle with Uber driver Richard Lomotey, 36, in Allegheny County. Lomotey commented on their appearance and did not follow the GPS directions to the requested address, according to Pittsburgh police public information officer Chris Togneri.

Lomotey, according to the women, parked the vehicle and said, “You’re not going anywhere,” before he attempted to lock the doors. Both women said they jumped out of the back seat and one of them shouted for help, according to Togneri.

“What’s been described is unacceptable,” an Uber spokesperson wrote in an email. “The driver’s access to the app has been removed and we stand ready to cooperate with law enforcement to support their investigation.”

Lomotey is an assistant professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State Beaver. Kristen Doerschner, the campus’s director of campus relations, said the allegations are “deeply troubling.”

“While we gather more information, he has been put on leave and will not be in the classroom,” Doerschner wrote in an email. “This is a criminal matter, and we cannot comment further.”

Lomotey was charged with two felony counts of kidnapping, two misdemeanors and two summaries.

He was arraigned Saturday by Allegheny County President Judge Kim Clark, who released Lomotey on non-monetary bail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 23.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.