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UCLA professor emeritus pleads no contest to sexual assault charges

By Melissa Morris

May 2, 2019 12:10 p.m.

This post was updated May 6 at 6:14 p.m.

A UCLA professor emeritus pleaded no contest to two charges of sexual assault of children under 14 years old.

Thomas Fairleigh Denove, a professor emeritus in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, was arraigned Nov. 9, according to court documents. He was charged under Penal Code 288(a) for one count and for 288.5(a) for two counts. Both are felony offenses. In addition to the two no contest pleas, Denove pleaded not guilty to the second charge under 288.5(a).

Penal Code 288.5(a) states a person who has recurring access to a child under 14 years old and engages in three or more acts of substantial sexual conduct with the child for three or more months shall be punished by a state prison sentence of six, 12 or 16 years.

Penal Code 288(a) states a person who willfully commits any lewd act upon a child under 14 years old with the intent of gratifying sexual desires shall be punished by a state prison sentence of three, six or eight years.

Denove’s bail was set at $1 million, which he posted in Sept. 18 and later increased by an additional $1 million, which he posted Nov. 29.

UCLA spokesperson Tod Tamberg said in an email statement the university was not aware of the charges against Denove until Wednesday evening, when the Daily Bruin brought the issue to their attention.

He added Denove retired in December, one month after his arraignment.

He also said the registrar’s information about Denove’s courses is incorrect. Early Thursday, the UCLA registrar indicated Denove offered a class in fall quarter 2018 and was scheduled to teach a class during the 2019 summer A session. He was removed as the instructor listed for the courses between the initial publication of this story and Thursday evening. Denove is still listed on TFT’s faculty page and the UCLA campus directory.

“Denove is retired, has no teaching responsibilities at UCLA, and will have no involvement with the university while this matter is under review,” Tamberg said.

Denove is scheduled to be sentenced May 21.

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Melissa Morris | Alumna
Morris was previously the 2020-2021 Editor in chief. She was also the 2019-2020 assistant Enterprise editor as well as the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the campus politics beat.
Morris was previously the 2020-2021 Editor in chief. She was also the 2019-2020 assistant Enterprise editor as well as the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the campus politics beat.
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