- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2016

The University at Albany has expelled two black female students and suspended a third after they were indicted for allegedly lying about being victims of a hate crime.

Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell have been dismissed from the university and Alexis Briggs has been suspended for two years, according to an email sent to the school community Thursday by President Robert J. Jones, the Albany Times Union reported.

The women grabbed national headlines — and a sympathetic tweet from Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton — after claiming that a group of 12 to 20 white men hurled racial slurs and attacked them on a CDTA bus about 1 a.m. Jan. 30 while others stood by and did nothing.

The alleged incident sparked a large on-campus rally defending women of color and the social media campaign #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany.

Police now say there is no evidence to back up their story and that the women were the actual aggressors, according to footage captured by cameras on the bus and by witnesses. The actual victim, police said, was a 19-year-old white woman who was also a bus passenger.

The three women were indicted this week by a grand jury and arraigned for 10 misdemeanor charges, including assault, attempted assault and false reporting, along with a violation for harassment, the Times Union reported. They have pleaded not guilty.

The three didn’t show up for their student conduct board hearing March 9, because their lawyers cited a conflict of interest in which UAlbany served as judge in the board hearings and witness in the criminal case, the Times Union reported.

Ms. Burwell’s lawyer Frederick Brewington noted that Ms. Burwell had already withdrawn from the university before she had been given a hearing and then dismissed, the Times Union reported.

Inspector Paul Burlingame of the University Police Department, a witness who testified at the hearing, said the real victims of the assault stayed mum during the media storm because they feared for their safety.

“One of the female victims,” Mr. Burlingame said, “withdrew out of concern for her physical safety.”

He said another student withdrew, “having been the target of threats made on social media because of the false reports made by (the women) of his having participated in an alleged hate crime,” the Times Union reported.

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