Three New York college students are being accused of making up a racially motivated attack and they now face multiple charges, according to officials.
Ariel Agudio, Asha Burwell and Alexis Briggs, all 20, were indicted by a grand jury on Monday each for third-degree assault and multiple counts of falsely reporting an incident, said the Albany District Attorney’s Office, CNN reported. Agudio and Burwell also face harassment charges, and Agudio got two counts of attempted assault.
In the incident, the State University of New York at Albany rallied behind the three, who are black, when they claimed that a group of white men and women attacked them on Jan. 30, 2016, on a city bus.
University President Robert J. Jones issued a statement in a letter, saying he was “deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident.” On social media, the term #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany trended and the People of Color Caucus sent a letter out to support them.
University police said that after an investigation, there were no racial epithets against the women. Instead, they had assaulted another passenger and had falsely reported the incident.
“What happened on the bus was not a ‘hate crime,'” University Police Chief Frank Wiley said in February. “The only person we heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants.”
The women pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“It is also unfortunate that some in the media and public appear to have reached a conclusion as to what occurred in this incident without actually having the information needed in order to reach such a conclusion,” Agudio’s lawyer, Mark Mishler, said in the statement.
A lawyer for Burwell, Frederick Brewington, slammed the school, calling it the “University of Injustice.”
“The three women, who were all students in good standing, have been arrested at the urging and insistence of the Albany University Police and the University at Albany,” Brewington told NBC News. “The real crime now is that the University is serving as the charging party against its own students in the criminal courts.”