The vice president of student affairs and enrollment services at CSU Monterey Bay pleaded not guilty Friday, Nov. 13, to a charge of corporal injury to a spouse stemming from an incident with his wife last month in Carmel.
Ronnie Higgs appeared via video call for his arraignment on the single felony count. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Julie Culver ordered him to stay away from his wife and their Carmel Valley home. While the alleged victim filed for divorce on Nov. 4, defense attorney William Pernik asked Culver to allow the estranged couple to attend marriage counseling together and says they've decided to reconcile.
Unless she gets the request from the District Attorney, though, Culver said, "I'm not inclined to go there."
Higgs, who is out of custody on $200,000 bond, was placed on administrative leave by CSUMB more than two weeks after the Oct. 22 incident in which he's alleged to have tracked down his wife at a Carmel restaurant where she was out with friends and tried to force her into his vehicle.
Deputy District Attorney Cristina Johnson says the woman had visible abrasions on her arms from the incident.
In a statement issued Nov. 6 by CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa's office, the university announced Higgs was placed on leave. They didn't specify whether the leave was paid or unpaid.
"We are concerned about the scope of the charges facing Dr. Higgs, and we want to ensure our community that we take these matters seriously, while also respecting the personal privacy rights of all involved, as the legal process moves forward," according to the statement. "Dr. Higgs has been placed on administrative leave pending a review of the facts and circumstances involved in this private marital matter. Effective immediately, Provost Katherine Kantardjieff will be the Acting Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services."
Higgs will return to court on Dec. 3.