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Quinnipiac retracts ‘08 expulsion for hate crime
Three years ago, Quinnipiac University expelled Courtney Stellwag for making a prank phone call which the university deemed racially motivated.
After Quinnipiac’s investigation, the university decided last month that her three-year-old prank phone call was not intended as a threat, but merely as a joke.
As a senior at Daemen College in New York, and well on her way to a career as a Physician’s Assistant, Stellwag received a letter from Quinnipiac regarding her 2008 expulsion.
In the letter, dated Dec. 7, 2011, Manuel Carreiro, Quinnipiac’s vice president and dean of students, admitted the findings of a “full investigation” showed the number Stellwag and her friend dialed during their prank was done so randomly as part of a Halloween joke. The line said during the phone call, “You will die in seven days,” which was interpreted as a threat of harm, was a line from the movie, “The Ring.”
Stellwag has been officially exonerated of her charges and the letter she received from Quinnipiac acknowledged in writing that her actions did not stem from racial-bias and that the university would accept her application for re-admission.
“The University recognizes that your actions on Oct. 28, 2008, were not motivated by hatred or bigotry, and that publications that suggested your conduct was a hate crime or racially motivated hate speech incident were not accurate,” Carreiro wrote.
“Courtney is thrilled,” her attorney, James Burke, said. Though Stellwag declined Quinnipiac’s offer to reapply and will remain at Daeman College until graduation, this is the outcome she had been hoping for.
Stellwag and her family have been involved in litigation against Quinnipiac since early 2009.
“We asked very early on for Quinnipiac to retract a number of the statements that had been made concerning this incident,” Burke said.
Stellwag’s expulsion received much media attention in 2008. Along with the Quinnipiac Chronicle, the New Haven Register and NBC Connecticut were among those that published the story of Stellwag’s charges as well as those of her friend, Emily Loschiavo. According to Burke, a similar letter has been issued to Laschiavo, who was also involved in the phone call.
“Every single person [involved] gave statements and told university officials that this was a joke, that the phrase in question was from The Ring, that it was a random call, that there was no intent to threaten anyone, and the university’s investigator in fact concluded that all of that was true. And it’s very unfortunate that it’s taken three years to set this record straight,” Burke said.