Controversial lawyer C. Peter Erlinder has been placed on a leave of absence for the rest of the spring semester at William Mitchell College of Law, where he's been a professor for 30 years.

Erlinder, who was held in a Rwandan prison for three weeks in 2010 after being accused of minimizing the country's genocide, said he was escorted off campus by staff on Friday and cleaned out his office Tuesday morning.

"I have no idea what's going on," he said.

College spokesman Steve Linders confirmed that Erlinder was on leave but declined to explain further.

"He is on leave," he said. "Beyond that, there isn't too much I would be able to say seeing that it was a personnel matter."

In a message to students on Tuesday, Daniel Thompson, dean of students and vice president of student affairs, posted to the college's website, "Professor Erlinder is a valuable and long-standing member of the faculty, and we look forward to his return after the leave."

Nicole Norfleet