University students who faked hate crime given lenient sentencing

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Three African-American University at Albany students who were accused of falsely reporting a hate crime have received a punishment of probation and community service.

Asha Burwell and Ariel Agudio—the final two to be sentenced for the false hate crime report—both received three years of probation and 200 hours each of community service. According to Fox News, the judge waived jail time, contending that the women had already endured “significant consequences” in the wake of the January 30, 2016, incident.

Along with student Alexis Briggs, Burwell and Agudio filed a report alleging that they were attacked on a bus by a group of white men. The women claimed that they were verbally assaulted and called the N-word. The three were also involved in a physical altercation with other bus riders although they claimed that incident was incited by the others.

The alleged hate crime was heavily promoted on the Albany campus and even sparked a hashtag campaign on Twitter, #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany. NFL players and rap singers supported the women by criticizing the attacks. Seeking political gain, Hillary Clinton also cited the purported hate crime.

Protest marches emerged at the university featuring numerous political activist speakers, including some from the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.

Upon review of cellphone video recorded by other passengers on the bus, police discovered that the women’s allegations were not supported by the video evidence. Within a month, the women were charged with filing a false hate crime report.

All three women initially declared their innocence and refused plea deals in the case.

Eventually, one of the women, Alexis Briggs, admitted in court that the trio had falsely reported the hate crime.

In 2016, Briggs pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, apologized for lying, and was sentenced to probation and 100 hours of community service.

The three women were ultimately expelled from the University at Albany.

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