January 5, 1997 in Nation/World

Prof Arrested After Role-Playing Game

Associated Press
 

Police say a professor of creative studies gave a student accused of cutting class a choice: Write a 20-page paper or participate in a role-playing game.

The 19-year-old male student picked the game. It was the wrong choice, police said Friday.

Scott Isaksen, 44, director of the Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College, was charged with unlawful imprisonment and coercion for allegedly blindfolding, choking and handcuffing the student in a motel room.

“The boy did not realize what the role-playing scenario would involve,” Assistant Amherst Police Chief Frank Olesko said.

Isaksen pleaded innocent at arraignment Thursday and was freed on $2,500 bail. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.

“He categorically denies the allegations,” his lawyer Michael Taheri said.

Isaksen teaches creative studies, a curriculum that emphasizes original thinking and innovative approaches to problem-solving.

According to Olesko, Isaksen accused the student of skipping class and offered him the choice of the paper or the role-playing game. The student agreed to the game and on Dec. 6, Isaksen took him to dinner.

They went to Isaksen’s office to start the game, but because there were people around, Isaksen insisted on going to a nearby motel, Olesko said.

During the game, which Isaksen called an experiment in stress, the professor gave the student a secret password then asked him to reveal it, the chief said.

Each time he did not, Isaksen would add a stress factor, first blindfolding him, then handcuffing him, then putting a rope around his neck, Olesko said.

At every stage, Isaksen asked the student if he was OK and gave him the option of quitting, although Isaksen explained “if you stop at any point of this, you’re back to square one,” Olesko said.

The student asked to quit when Isaksen removed his boot, Olesko said, but was persuaded to continue for a final stage - a three-minute silence.

After the hourlong ordeal, Isaksen spent about 30 minutes asking the student about the experience. The student complained of a severe headache.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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