October 31, 2006
By CLYNTON NAMUO, Union Leader Correspondent
Durham – A reported anti-Semitic hate crime at the University of New Hampshire earlier this month never happened and the student who reported it has been arrested and charged with lying to authorities, police said yesterday.
Breanne Coventry Snell, 24, of Midlothian, Va., is charged with two counts of giving false information to police and one count of unsworn falsification. Each charge is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.
Earlier this month, Snell reported to police that she had been attacked near the Whittemore Center around 6 p.m. on Oct. 3 after leaving a meeting for Hillel, a Jewish student organization. She told police two men shoved her up against a fence and used a number of anti-Semitic slurs related to Nazism.
“It didn’t happen,” UNH Police Chief Nicholas Halias said yesterday.
Snell was arrested around noon yesterday at the UNH police station after officers called her in. She has since been released on $2,000 personal recognizance bail.
Why police believe Snell lied was unclear yesterday, and officers would not disclose any further details on the case as the investigation is still ongoing.
Racial tensions on campus were stoked recently after a group of students objected the university's handling of a residence assistant who used a number of racial slurs while on UNH's student TV station. Residential life officials let the RA keep his job without watching a tape of the incident.
An editorial yesterday in UNH's student newspaper, The New Hampshire, blasted the RA for his comments and called on the greater campus community stand together.
Administrators and police quickly reassured the UNH community yesterday that they will continue to address every reported hate crime as a serious incident.
“The University of New Hampshire remains committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors, and acts of hate or bias are not and will not be tolerated,” Chief Halias said.
A campus-wide system for reporting hate crimes instituted this year is meant to deal with any incidents quickly and appropriately, said Anne Lawing, senior assistant vice president of student and academic services.
The “bias response protocol” includes addressing problems within 24 hours of when they occur and eventually will include tracking patterns of which groups are victimized, and how and when.
Snell will be arraigned in Durham District Court on Dec. 14.