Cease-and-desist order issued against Duke private investigator

Posted February 9, 2015

Lewis McLeod

— A Chapel Hill psychologist who looked into a 2013 sexual assault claim that resulted in a Duke University student-athlete being expelled has been ordered to stop conducting private investigations.

In a Dec. 4 letter obtained Monday by WRAL News, Dr. Celia Irvine was issued a cease-and-desist notice from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, which informed her that she is not properly licensed to conduct "private protective services activities."

The letter specifically refers to "private investigator services" for Duke.

According to a lawsuit against the university, Irvine was hired to review an 18-year-old female student's claim that soccer player and senior Lewis McLeod sexually assaulted her in November 2013.

Neither Duke nor Durham police charged McLeod, of Australia, but, based on Irvine's work, the school's Office of Student Conduct found him guilty of sexual assault and expelled him just before his May 10 graduation.

In a lawsuit against the university, McLeod's attorney, Rachel Hitch, argues that Irvine "lacked the knowledge, training and experience to conduct a fair and competent fact-finding investigation into the allegations."

The complaint contends that McLeod, whose was in the U.S. on a student visa, had a job offer with a Wall Street firm that was contingent upon his graduation and that his "inability to actually assume employment in this prestigious position is substantially certain to negatively impact him forevermore."

McLeod has maintained that his encounter with the woman, whom he met at a local bar, was consensual – a key issue in the case – and that the woman "got emotional" and began to cry.

The lawsuit is still working its way through the legal system with parties on both sides agreeing that the case will not go to court until at least next February.

McLeod, meanwhile, is back living in Australia.

The state's Private Protective Services Board is expected to hold a hearing about Irvine's case in April.


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  • Ginger Lynn Feb 11, 2015
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    Badly photoshopped at that!

  • Alexia Proper Feb 10, 2015
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    Love that hand on his shoulder. I wonder who's body was photoshopped out?

  • Roy Hinkley Feb 10, 2015
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    Many universities operate their student conduct courts on the basis of a preponderance of evidence, which is a different standard than that of criminal courts (i.e. beyond a reasonable doubt).

  • James Grimes Jr. Feb 10, 2015
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    How can the Office of Student Conduct find him guilty of a criminal act, and act upon that "finding", but the police, upon it's investigation, decided not to charge him? Guess Duke hasn't learned it's lesson on false allegations.

  • Alexia Proper Feb 10, 2015
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    There's a world of difference between being something like Magnum PI and investigating claims by asking questions. There's also different approaches to asking questions, such as asking and waterboarding.

    I'll venture to guess that nothing this lady did came anywhere close to the conduct of Magnum PI or waterboarding. Yet, this is all lumped in private investigation? And one needs a license to ask questions?

    So next time a student gets in trouble at school and the teacher or principal ask questions, the response should be "are you licensed to be an investigator?"

    This is really lame.