Judge's gavel on a desk.

Former St. Andrews student serving more than 23 years for on-campus sexual assaults

By Sarah Nagem


A former St. Andrews University student-athlete accused of sexually assaulting three women on campus in 2022 and 2023 was sentenced to serve more than 23 years in prison. 

Mison Mickle, 24, pleaded guilty in March to four felony counts of sex offenses and failure to register as a sex offender. The Border Belt Independent recently learned of Mickle’s conviction and sentencing in Scotland County Superior Court. 

Mickle’s arrest in early 2023 raised questions about safety at the liberal arts school, which enrolls fewer than 900 students at its Scotland County campus in southeastern North Carolina. St. Andrews was already facing criticism for its handling of an unrelated sexual assault on campus in 2021; a trial in that case is expected to begin in February. 

Mickle, a member of the school’s wrestling team, was charged after Laurinburg police responded to St. Andrews on Jan. 12, 2023, in response to a 911 call from a student’s mother, Lt. Jeremy White previously told the BBI. Three students, ages 18, 19 and 22, told officers they had been sexually assaulted in student housing.

Following his arrest, Mickle was held at the Scotland County Detention Center under a $1.5 million bail. 

Mickle was convicted on March 13 of second-degree forcible rape and attempted second-degree forcible sex offense stemming from an incident on Oct. 28, 2022, prison records show. He was also convicted of second-degree forcible rape from Nov. 20, 2022, and second-degree forcible sex offense from Jan. 12, 2023. 

Mickle pleaded guilty to the charges, according to the Scotland County Clerk of Superior Court. Judge Stephan Futrell sentenced him to serve 23 years, five months and 25 days behind bars. 

In North Carolina, a charge of second-degree forcible rape can carry a sentence of three years and eight months to 15 years and two months.

Jason St. Aubin, a criminal defense attorney who represented Mickle, declined to comment Tuesday, citing client confidentiality.

This is not the first time Mickle has been behind bars on sex offense charges. Two years after joining the Army in 2018, he was convicted by a military judge at Fort Lee, Virginia, of three counts of attempted abusive sexual contact and three counts of assault consummated by a battery, records show. He was ordered to serve 12 months behind bars and was dishonorably discharged. 

Mickle registered as a sex offender in his home state of South Carolina. But he did not register in North Carolina as required by law when he moved to Scotland County.  

Colleges and universities can allow convicted sex offenders to attend and play sports. 

Trial set for another sexual assault case

St. Andrews University has faced scrutiny for its leadership, financial woes and reputation for enrolling student-athletes who have to take on substantial loan debt and might not be ready for the academic rigor of college. 

The school was at risk of closing before it was acquired by Florida-based Webber International University in 2011. The president of Webber at the time had ties to Arthur Keiser, a controversial figure in for-profit schools. 

Hurricane Florence battered the St. Andrews campus in 2018, adding to the school’s money woes. 

A sexual assault September 2021, further rattled the university. A student said she was attacked by a member of the school’s soccer team. 

The woman, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit against St. Andrews the following year. She alleges the school further traumatized her. 

After the woman told an athletic coach what had happened, the coach took her to see Elizabeth Hernandez, dean of students and the Title IX coordinator at St. Andrews. Hernandez’s husband was the coach of the men’s soccer team.

The university, then led by Ellen Bernhardt, held assemblies following the reported attack. During the events, according to the lawsuit, Bernhardt gave details about the victim and the investigation and said she wanted to “separate fact from fiction and rumors.”

A Laurinburg police lieutenant also attended and talked about “why women might falsely allege sexual assault,” according to the lawsuit. 

Emilia Beskind, an attorney representing Jane Doe, said a trial was expected to begin in August but has been pushed back to February.