Central Texas Professor’s Suicide Tied To Online Sex Scam

Professor James Arnt Aune committed suicide in January. (KBTX-TV photo/file)

HOUSTON (March 26, 2013)--A Louisiana man who pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court in Houston is accused of using an underage girl to extort money from Texas A&M University Professor James Arnt Aune, 59, who jumped to his death from a campus building in January.

Court records reveal text messages between Daniel Timothy Duplaisir, 37, of Metairie, La., and Aune, who was chairman of the university’s Communications Department.

Duplaisir is facing a charge of using a phone or internet to extort money.

A federal judge Tuesday ordered Duplaisir to remain in jail without bond.

His trial is scheduled to begin on May 28.

Authorities say he used the girl to lure Aune into a sexually explicit online relationship and then contacted Aune, posing as an outraged father to demand money.

Authorities say Duplaisir used the same scheme against others.

The texts indicate that Duplaisir's threats to publicize the relationship contributed to the professor's decision to commit suicide.

Aune’s widow, Mariam, said Tuesday her late husband was a good man who was "very human with flaws, just like all of us."

Aune said she's not excusing her husband's actions, but that he was duped by Duplaisir, who she says orchestrated the scheme for money.

She said her husband had been depressed for several years before his suicide.

Aune’s body was found on Jan. 8 next to the Northside Parking Garage on the Texas A&M campus.

He was a published, award-winning author and a distinguished teacher who won the Association of Former Students Teaching Award in 2004.

Aune joined the A&M faculty as an associate professor in 1996 and became head of the Department of Communications in 2011.