Former Lee University Campus Choir Director James “Jimmy” Phillips was arrested on rape charges Monday.
Prior to his arrest, Phillips resigned as director of Campus Choir on Sept. 17, Lee officials said. According to Dr. William Green, dean of the School of Music, Phillips cited “personal reasons” as his motivation to resign.
“It was within this semester. It wasn’t before the semester started.
He just cited personal reasons,” said Dr. Green. “He determined it was best not to be a Lee employee while going through that … so he resigned, and we accepted the resignation.”
The Lee University Office of Public Relations released a statement that said, “We have cooperated fully with the investigation and aren’t at liberty to publicly discuss the matter at this time.”
Phillips has been the director of Campus Choir for 13 years, having begun his Lee career in 2007. Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Luke Gambill stepped into the role of director after Phillip’s resignation.
“There is not necessarily an intention that he’s going to come back,” Dr. Green said in reference to Phillips’ resignation. “At this juncture, we plan for Dr. Gambill to continue with this ensemble.”
Dr. Mark Walker and Dr. Green held a meeting with the members of Campus Choir on Wednesday, during which they provided resources for the students. Both made themselves available to talk to students, referencing the Counseling Center, Lee officials said.
“Today, Dr. Walker came and spoke to the group. Primarily because there is news out there about the situation, he wanted to share from the presidential perspective,” said Dr. Green. “He did a remarkable job of showing care and sensitivity to the situation, but also understanding the possible hurt that the Phillips family is going through, any other party involved is going through, but also the hurt our students are going through at this loss.”
Phillips was placed under $25,000 bond at the Bradley County Jail.
While meeting with the choir, Dr. Green stressed that no matter what comes of this situation, the history of Campus Choir will continue alongside their ministry.
“My encouragement, as was Dr. Walker’s encouragement to the students, was to not make assumptions,” said Dr. Green. “We’re a family, and we pray for them.”
Dr. Walker said he will also be in prayer for the people involved.
“We are saddened by this situation and are praying for all parties involved, keeping in mind that Jimmy Phillips is innocent until proven guilty,” said Dr. Walker.