Professor charged with soliciting 'student' — with an Arby's card

Barry Cole Poyner, a communications professor, is charged with using Grindr to solicit sex from an 18-year-old who was actually an undercover cop.
By Tim Fitzsimons

A church leader and university professor in northeastern Missouri has been charged with patronizing prostitution after allegedly trying to solicit an 18-year-old man on Grindr with offers of an Arby’s gift card and gas money.

Barry Poyner.Truman State University

The investigation began after Truman State University police received a tip that Barry Poyner had been “harassing” male students and “offering to pay for items for sexual favors,” according to court documents. Poyner, 57, was allegedly contacting the students on the popular gay dating app Grindr.

The Kirksville Daily Express reported that a police officer set up a Grindr profile posing as an 18-year-old man, and Poyner, using the profile name “DILF,” reached out to express his interest in establishing a “sugar daddy relationship.” Poyner is accused of trying to lure the teen with gift cards, clothing and money, which Poyner said he had done in prior arrangements, police said.

On Dec. 3, Poyner allegedly arranged to meet up at a gas station to refuel the teen’s car in exchange for sex, saying that he “might throw in an Arby’s card LOL.” After arriving at the station, Poyner fled and was later arrested.

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Poyner has been a professor of communication at the university for nearly 30 years. Truman State said in a statement that he has been suspended and "informed that he is not allowed on campus, cannot have any contact with student organizations or participate in any campus events or activities,”according to NBC affiliate KYOU News.

Poyner's name has been removed from the website for the Kirksville Church of Christ, where he had been listed as one of three church elders. The church’s Facebook page, which had reportedly condemned homosexuality in at least two posts, appears to have been deactivated.

Poyner is expected to appear before a judge on Jan. 8 to face a misdemeanor charge of “patronizing prostitution.”

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Tim Fitzsimons

Tim Fitzsimons reports on LGBTQ news for NBC Out. 

The Associated Press contributed.