College Teacher Gets Students to Watch Him Hang From Hooks in His Chest, Is Sorry, Resigns

He explained that he was in need of more "aggressive" mental health treatment.

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Oct 20 2015, 12:04am

Similar practice in India. Photo via Wikimedia Commons user Ranveig

A political science professor at Tarleton State University has resigned in a new weird kind of disgrace: Dr. Jeff Justice admits to having his students watch while he suspended himself in the air from hooks through his chest.

By all accounts, the loss of Dr. Justice comes as a blow to Tarelton State, where he seems to have been a well-liked, knowledgeable educator. One of his reviews on Ratemyprofessor.com indicates that he is, "not too bad, smart, but weird."

According to a statement he wrote explaining his departure, the hooks-in-chest incident occurred back in April in the front of his home. Members of the press have, he claims, repeatedly approached him asking if he had plied minors with alcohol, and seemingly to put the rumors to bed, he clarified in a statement: "What did occur on that night was I attempted to harm myself in the presences of several students."

Adding to the mystery however, he went on to explain that while he doesn't remember why he did it, "this incident was caused by the accumulation of events in my life that resulted in me entering a state of severe depression."

An October 14 police report appears to be the origin of the claim that he offered alcohol to minors. The report says several students went to Justice's house, and that they "did drink scotch." Later in the evening, the students reportedly "witnessed Prof. Justice put spikes in his chest with ropes attached so that he could hang from a tree in his backyard," and that it was Justice's way of "praying to the sun god."

It seems he was doing a version of a ritual called "Mandan," which comes from the traditions of certain Plains Native Americans who perform it on young boys as a rite of passage into manhood. Alternatively, it's sometimes called, "suspension" by body modification enthusiasts, and is practiced all over the world.

According to the report, once the ritual was over, Justice asked the students to keep quiet about the whole body-piercing-and-sun-god-worshipping thing because, "he had lost friends from it before." The anonymous student quoted in the police report claims Justice "told us he loved us for experiencing it with him."

According to Texan News Service, Justice was very active in Boy Scouts, including participation in the Order of the Arrow, a sort of overachievers club within the Boy Scouts. According to Ratemyprofessor.com, Justice frequently regaled students with Scouting stories. So far, no public information about his status with the Boy Scouts has apparently been issued.

In his statement, Justice calls the incident "a low point in my life," and claims that he has since been able to "overcome the embarrassment of my actions that night." He also wrote that his anxiety and depression required a "more aggressive treatment plan."

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