We often follow academics in the criminal justice system, but few are likely to be as memorable as Penn State Professor Themis Matsoukas, 64. The Penn State chemical engineering professor was arrested in a parking lot near Rothrock State Forest for allegedly having sex with a collie. He later told police “I do it to blow off steam.” What is notable (beyond the obvious) is the overlap and lack of severity of the charges.
His arrest bizarrely occurs the same week as another man was arrested for attempting to have sex with a tree. However, Matsoukas harmed an animal but will likely not face significant jail time.
Matsoukas was reportedly caught on a trail camera in the parking lot in April and accused of indecent exposure, masturbation, and sexual contact with a dog. He was previously seen walking around the lot with no clothes from the waist down.
He was tracked down through his car and then matched to his DMV license photo. A search of his home uncovered items that could be seen in the video. Among the items seized were a jacket, a backpack, a ski mask, a large wristwatch, an electronic tablet, and photo documentation of the presence of a dog in the footage.
Police reported that Matsoukas told them during the search repeatedly “I’m done, I’m dead,” He then reportedly begged the authorities to shoot him, saying, “I need to die.”
Notably, it appears from the charging sheet that he is facing fairly redundant charges but they all appear misdemeanors or lesser offenses.
§ 5901 M3 Open Lewdness
§ 3127 §§ A M2 Indecent Exposure
§ 3129 M2 Sexual Intercourse With Animal
§ 5533 §§ A S Cruelty to Animals
§ 5503 §§ A4 S Disorderly Conduct Hazardous/Physi Off
That last charge is a disorderly conduct charge where the accused “creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition.” The term “physically offensive condition” is patently obvious in this case, but can be ambiguous and somewhat subjective on its scope.
It may come as a surprise to many that the first three charges (open lewdness, indecent exposure, and sexual intercourse with an animal) are misdemeanors and the last two (cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct) are summary charges. A summary charge is even lower than a misdemeanor and often involve non-traffic offenses.
Presumably, these offenses would run concurrently given the overlap. For a first offender, that could result in a relatively short jail term.
The expectation is that the university will fire him. He could challenge on the grounds that these are misdemeanors but the school can point to the depravity and dangerousness of the allegations. Of course, we have seen faculty who have physically assaulted students who were not fired.
Matsoukas’ academic work focused on chemical thermodynamics and he is the author of a recent undergraduate textbook on the Fundamentals of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. That book by Pearson Publishing has been out less than a year.
Matsoukas’ research centers on “nano colloidal systems and in the application of stochastic population balance models to particulate processes.”
Matsoukas has been given an array of teaching awards, including the George W. Atherton Award for excellence in Teaching, the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Penn State Engineering Society, and the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award from the student chapter of the AIChE. He earned his undergraduate degree at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and his PhD at the University of Michigan. Both degrees were in chemical engineering.