University of New England vice-chancellor charged with touching 16-year-old girl’s face

University vice-chancellor is charged over allegedly ‘touching a 16-year-old girl’s face and making comments about the colour of her skin’

  • University of New England vice chancellor Brigid Heywood has been charged
  • She allegedly touched a 16-year-old girl’s face and mentioned her skin colour 
  • Ms Heywood, 65, was charged with common assault and offensive behaviour

A university vice-chancellor has been charged for allegedly touching a 16-year-old girl’s face and commenting on the colour of her skin. 

The University of New England’s Brigid Heywood, 65, was charged by NSW police on Monday following an investigation into an alleged assault against the girl that took place in March.

The teenager was reportedly not physically harmed.

UNE vice chancellor Brigid Heywood (pictured) has been charged by police for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl

UNE vice chancellor Brigid Heywood (pictured) has been charged by police for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old girl

Police will allege Professor Heywood assaulted the girl at an event at Armidale Services Memorial Club. 

The charges laid against her include common assault and offensive behaviour.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said it was shocked to learn about the charges in a statement, with calls being made for professor Heywood to step down.

‘Professor Heywood is one of just 39 vice chancellors of Australia’s public universities. She holds a position of public trust and national significance,’ said NTEU NSW Secretary Dr Damien Cahill.

‘Professor Heywood is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Nevertheless, the seriousness of the allegations requires an appropriate response.’

Dr Cahill said considering the ‘present circumstances’ the only appropriate course of action was for her to ‘step aside with immediate effect pending the outcome of matters before the courts’. 

‘If Professor Heywood does not voluntarily step aside then the University must act to stand her down,’ he added.

In a statement, police told Daily Mail Australia that the alleged assault occurred on Tuesday March 8 and a report was filed on Thursday, March 17.

‘Following extensive inquiries, officers attached to New England Police District issued a 65-year-old woman a future court attendance notice for common assault and behave in offensive manner in/near public place/school,’ they said.

Ms Heywood (pictured) allegedly touched the girl's face and commented on the colour of her skin at an event at Armidale Services Memorial Club in March

Ms Heywood (pictured) allegedly touched the girl’s face and commented on the colour of her skin at an event at Armidale Services Memorial Club in March

Professor Heywood has been UNE’s vice-chancellor and chief executive since 2019. 

She will front Armidale Local Court on Monday, September 26. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the university for comment. 

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