Brigid Heywood, vice chancellor of the University of New England, resigns after assault charge

The vice-chancellor and chief executive of an Australian university has resigned but will defend the charges against her, according to her former employer.

Brigid Heywood spent three years at the University of New England, located in Armidale in regional New South Wales, before she was formally charged on Monday.

Police allege that in March Professor Heywood assaulted a 16-year-old girl at a licensed site in Armidale and the teen was not physically injured.

In addition to one charge of habitual assault, Professor Heywood has also been charged with abusive behavior near a public place or school.

In a statement, the Chancellor of the University of New England, James Harris, said Professor Heywood “firmly denies that the allegations are true and that he will defend them”.

The National Tertiary Education Union had called on Professor Heywood to resign while the case was in court.

“Professor Heywood and the University Council recognize the deep pain many felt upon hearing the charges and thank the community for the patience we have shown in resolving these cases,” Mr Harris said in his statement.

“The University Council wants to make it clear that it remains deeply committed at all times to promoting a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for its students, staff and community.”

Professor Heywood is due to appear in court in Armidale on September 26.

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