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HBCU president reinstated after investigation following administrator's suicide

Lincoln University of Missouri's President John Moseley has been reinstated to his position after a third-party investigation found "no claims of bullying by the University President can be substantiated" after Antoinette "Bonnie" Candia-Bailey, a university alum and vice president of student affairs, died by suicide on Jan. 8, according to a Thursday university announcement.

Candia-Bailey accused Moseley of bullying, harassment and discrimination in a letter obtained by ABC News following her death. Moseley volunteered to be placed on paid, administrative leave after the school's Board of Curators opened an investigation into the allegations.

"There is not a lot I can say about the independent report and its findings, but I am grateful to the Board of Curators for their faith in me and their vote of confidence,” said Moseley in a statement Thursday. “The Board advised me of the report’s findings a week ago, and I’ve had time to reflect and to discuss my future and that of the University with my family and members of the Lincoln University community. I care deeply for this University, its mission, our students, staff and faculty and I look forward to returning from administrative leave to resume my duties as President.”

In a letter dated Jan. 8 addressed to Moseley and obtained by ABC News, 49-year-old Candia-Bailey, who is Black, said she experienced months of harassment, bullying and differential treatment from her white colleagues while working under Moseley and his administrative leadership.

PHOTO: Dr. Antoinette 'Bonnie' Candia-Bailey. (Lincoln University)
PHOTO: Dr. Antoinette 'Bonnie' Candia-Bailey. (Lincoln University)

Candia-Bailey began working at Lincoln University, a historically Black university in Jefferson City, Missouri, in May 2023. She received a termination letter on Jan. 3. The letter stated that she was terminated for cause, including allegations of insubordination in allowing an ineligible student to work, allowing ineligible students to obtain a discounted housing rate and failing to adhere to confidentiality requirements in a grievance matter filed by two of her subordinates.

In her letter to Moseley, Candia-Bailey cited a meeting she says the two had: “I couldn't even finish the meeting because you didn't hear me. I left in tears. You intentionally harassed and bullied me and got satisfaction from sitting back to determine how you would ensure I failed as an employee and proud alumna."

Following her death, Lincoln University’s Board of Curators announced plans to “engage a third-party expert to fully review potential personnel issues and concerns recently raised regarding compliance with the University’s established policies and procedures," read a statement sent by the university to ABC News.

PHOTO: Interim President John Moseley delivers remarks and welcomed Chamber Ambassadors forward for a ribbon cutting, Sept. 23, 2021 in Jefferson City, Mo. (Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP)
PHOTO: Interim President John Moseley delivers remarks and welcomed Chamber Ambassadors forward for a ribbon cutting, Sept. 23, 2021 in Jefferson City, Mo. (Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP)

Students and alumni called for Moseley's resignation after the incident, as well as offering a list of demands concerning student involvement and advocacy for personnel issues that they expressed at an open Board of Curators forum, according ABC affiliate KMIZ.

The Board of Curators called the administrator's death "tragic."

“As a Board, we are committed to make certain the mental health of Lincoln University employees is a priority and that every employee is always treated with dignity and respect,” said Board of Curators President Victor Pasley.

The investigation team was led by attorney Ron Norwood at Lewis Rice LLC, who is a member of the governing board and was the past board president of an HBCU.

The investigation states that Candia-Bailey’s claims that she was bullied by President Moseley were "unsubstantiated." The Board of Curators said the investigation considered thousands of pages of documents and dozens of hours of interviews with Lincoln University employees and leaders.

"No witnesses reported that they had ever witnessed President Moseley engage in bullying – and all denied having ever personally felt bullied by President Moseley," the statement from the Board of Curators read.

Some former students of the university are also calling for a separate investigation.

“Her last words to us, when we asked her ‘how can we help’ she said, 'pray for me, I love you all and do not let them sweep this under the rug.' We are going to make sure that other Black females do not have to suffer things that they have endured,” Nell Cheatham, Lincoln University attendee, told ABC News in a recent interview.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

HBCU president reinstated after investigation following administrator's suicide originally appeared on abcnews.go.com