Two now-expelled black University of Albany have been sentenced to probation, community service, and fines by a judge after they falsely reported they were victims of a racial hate crime.
Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell, the two students who alleged they were victims of a hate crime, will not face jail.
The Albany Times Union reports that Roger McDonough, the Albany County Court judge, issued the sentences – 200 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and three years of probation – on Friday.
“There have been significant consequences already for what has happened, but I don’t think there’s any benefit in sentencing you to a jail term — no benefit for society and no benefit for you,” the judge reportedly said, going against the recommendation of prison time and then probation by the Albany County Probation Department.
Agudio, Burwell, and Alexis Briggs, the three former students involved, were part of a bus brawl which led to the fake hate crime claim.
All three of them swore that they were attacked by a hate-fueled mob on the bus. They claimed that the assault occurred after they began arguing with around a dozen white men and women, who then turned to racial slurs.
“I just got jumped on a bus while people hit us and called us the ‘n’ word,’” said Burwell on Twitter. “NO ONE helped us.”
Of course, the baseless allegations sparked outrage on campus. Hundreds gathered for an on-campus protest to demand justice, tying the incident to Black Lives Matter. #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany was created to stand in solidarity with the ‘victims’.
Even Hillary Clinton included herself in the incident, linking to an article on the story via Twitter days after the incident occurred.
There's no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus. https://t.co/ADVghl4iEv -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 4, 2016
There would have been no real justice if not for the 12 cameras on the bus that caught the assault, with some of the cameras capturing audio.
David Soares, an Albany County district attorney, said that the footage caught by the cameras proved that the three ex-students were the aggressors in the situation and their claim of a racially motivated hate crime was entirely fabricated.
Briggs was the only one to enter a plea deal. She apologized in exchange for a community service sentence.
An 18-year-old female, a 19-year-old female, a 20-year-old female and a 19-year-old male were the victims of the assault by the three women.
According to the Times-Union, Judge McDonough told Agudio and Burwell “I’ve seen the video. The jurors saw the video — all the video from the bus.”
“What occurred on that bus is nothing close to what you reported, Ms. Agudio and Ms. Burwell.”
“You manipulated law enforcement. You manipulated the UAlbany community. You manipulated the larger community. You manipulated the media. What your motivation for it — I can’t be sure.”
An assistant district attorney, David Rossi, told Judge McDonough that prison time for Agudio and Burwell was not sought by his office.
“This case has never been about jail for us,” said Rossi, according to the Times Union. “It has been about taking responsibility and setting the record straight so the community would heal. The defendants have chosen this path instead. Even now, all we’re asking for is an apology.”
Agudio and Burwell’s attorneys insisted that as they had believed they were victims of a racial hate crime, it would be wrong for them to apologize.
Both Agudio and Burwell have filed appeals for their sentences.