Months after evidence became overwhelming, a student at the University at Albany (SUNY-Albany) has confessed that she helped concoct a fake hate crime in an effort to deflect from an assault committed by her and two friends. Two of her friends, though, still deny the hoax and will soon go to trial.
Alexis Briggs, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell, all black SUNY-Albany students, grabbed national headlines in January when they claimed they were physically and verbally attacked by a white mob while traveling on a public bus in Albany.
“I just got jumped on a bus while people hit us and called us the ‘n’ word,’ and NO ONE helped us.” Burwell claimed on Twitter that evening. “I begged for people to help us and instead of help they told us to ‘shut he f*ck up’ and continuously hit us in the head.”
The alleged attack even attracted attention from Hillary Clinton, who personally tweeted in support of the girls.
But a police investigation quickly destroyed the nascent “hate crime” narrative. No fewer than 12 cameras recorded events on the bus, and they showed the girls were actually the aggressors, who lashed out at and physically attacked several white passengers.
Charges were filed against all three girls in May, while Agudio and Burwell were expelled by SUNY-Albany. Briggs, who was charged with a lesser role in the matter, was suspended for two years. During a hearing concerning the girls’ expulsion, a local police officer said the girls’ bogus hate crime allegations had been particularly harmful because they had initially prevented the actual victims from coming forward.
Now, Briggs has become the first of the three girls to publicly admit the whole thing was a hoax.
“You knew it wasn’t true?” Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick asked Briggs during a Tuesday court hearing, according to the Albany Times Union.
“Yes,” she replied.
“I never intended any harm and I truly regret my actions,” a tearful Briggs said while reading a prepared statement. “I was raised to take responsibility for my actions, and being the source of such negativity is hurtful on many levels.”
Briggs’ confession was part of a plea deal to have assault and false reporting charges dropped in favor of a disorderly conduct violation, which is a civil offense rather than a crime. Briggs will pay $120 in fees and will perform 100 hours of community service, and the case will be dropped if she avoids arrest for one year.
Charges are still pending against Agudio and Burwell, who rejected similar plea bargains and will soon go to trial on a variety of charges including assault, attempted assault, false reporting, and harassment. If convicted on all counts they could spend as much as two years in jail.
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