Investigators in Charlottesville are operating on the theory that Ronald Suskind, a University of Virginia student, told the truth when he reported receiving deaths threats during his campaign for student body president, a Charlottesville police official said recently.
But Suskind's contention that his running mate, Karen Rose, withdrew from the race after she also received threatening calls is now being disputed by Rose, according to university officials.
Suskind, 20, is seeking the presidency of the college of arts and sciences. He has said seven anonymous phone callers have castigated him for being Jewish and used racial slurs to refer to Rose, a sophomore from the Disrict of Columbia who is black.
"We don't have any reason to say" that Suskind's account of the calls to him "is a figment of his imagination or that he made it up," said Charlottesville Police Lt. James Haden, who added that officers are trying to find out who made the calls.
University spokeswoman Elizabeth P. Wilkerson said Rose has told the dean of students that she got no threats and her withdrawal from the race was due to her lack of time for the job.
Officials said the university has asked the Charlottesville police to investigate a story about the calls that recently appeared in the students newspaper, the Cavalier Daily. The story quoted Suskind as saying the calls were the reason Rose withdrew from the election.
Suskind said he didn't put out the story to help his candidacy. "No one in his right mind makes a report of something with no foundation to the press," he said.
Efforts to reach Rose for comment have been unsuccessful.
Last week, the university issued a statement deploring the threatening phone calls and calling Rose and Suskind "two outstanding young people."
The election was held last week, but a run-off between Suskind and another candidate is scheduled to be completed today.