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Death Threats at Princeton: Hate Crime or Hoax?

PJM Princeton: Was a Princeton student attacked last week just because he's conservative? No, says Fausta Wertz, who reports on the latest fake hate crime perpetrated by a troubled student.

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December 17, 2007 - 12:59 am

By Fausta Wertz

Princeton area commenters expressed reservations this week about a report, posted on prominent blogs, of threats received by four Princeton students and Robert George, a professor of jurisprudence. The students are all officers of the conservative Anscombe Society.

The threats were contained in two emails.

One email, blocked by a spam filter, read:

SHUT THE [expletive] UP WE WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOU WE ARE WATCHING YOU YOU DONT BELONG HERE WE WILL KILL YOU.

Another email read:

jonathan, robert, kevin, francisco and sherif:: i am telling you know that we are watching you all. we will destroy you. you are not welcome here. you will suffer…all of you. shut the [expletive] uP!!!

The students who received the emails were Anscombe vice president Jonathan Hwang ’09, president Kevin Staley-Joyce ’09, former president Sherif Girgis ’08 and administrative committee chair Francisco Nava ’09. Professor George is the Anscombe Society’s advisor.

The students and Professor George notified campus security, the Public Safety Office. Apparently Prof. George, one of the few conservative academics on campus, has received many threats throughout his career.

The Public Safety Office did not issue a campus alert.

Then last Friday, Francisco Nava was attacked in Princeton Township as he was heading for the home of a boy he tutors. Nava has stated that two men checked him against a wall and repeatedly hit his head against the bricks. The two men told him to “shut the f*ck up” as they left him lying on the ground.

The mother of the child told Professor George that Nava was badly beaten and bleeding. She called an ambulance which took him to the Medical Center at Princeton, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a concussion. He was released later that night and spent the weeked at the McCosh infirmary on campus.

I have confirmed with Princeton Township police that the incident is under investigation. The local paper did not carry the story last Friday, and neither have the Trentonian or the Trenton Times.

Earlier this fall Nava had published an article in the Daily Princetonian titled Princeton Latex Lies, in which he spoke against casual sex and the university’s policy of free condoms. In a town where a local non-profit hands out condoms by the fistful to any teen that walks in the door, Nava’s opinion was not popular.

I walked around campus today and asked students what they made of allegations that Nava’s story is a hoax. The question of a hoax came up because, as Matthew Schmitz posted in the Princeton Tory, Nava had staged a hoax when he was in high school. Most of the students I talked to are sympathetic to Nava in spite of his stance against gay marriage; a few think the assault story is a hoax. All the students were concerned but calm.

The NY Sun apparently believes the injuries Nava described are real.

Over the weekend, Mr. Nava’s jaw was badly swollen, his face was covered with cuts and abrasions, and the inside of his mouth was bleeding, Mr. George, who was also a target of the death threats, said after visiting Mr. Nava in the emergency room.

Mr. Nava was moved over the weekend to the McCosh Health Center on campus.

It appeared that the assault did take place. While in the emergency room, Nava was diagnosed with a concussion because of “vomiting in the ambulance, nausea, and dizziness.”

But however he acquired these injuries, Francisco Nava has now admitted to Princeton Township Detective Ernie Silagy that it was a hoax. Not only did he fabricate the assault, but he admitted to sending the emails to the other three students and to Professor George.

Fausta Wertz is a resident of Princeton Township and blogs at Fausta’s blog.

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