A white teenager accused of contaminating her black roommate’s belongings with bodily fluids was not charged with a hate crime Tuesday, despite calls from activists to have the charge added to her case.
Brianna Brochu, 18, was arraigned Tuesday, weeks after she was charged with criminal mischief for bragging on social media about rubbing used tampons on her University of Hartford roommate’s backpack and putting the roommate’s toothbrush “places where the sun doesn’t shine.”
Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gathered outside the Hartford Superior Court pushing for a hate-crime charge, according to NBC Connecticut.
“Hate crimes are not just putting crosses on lawns,” Steven Camp, a pastor, said outside the courthouse, according to the Hartford Courant. “The motivation for this was race. It was hate.”
It’s unclear whether prosecutors are still considering a hate-crime charge. The prosecutor’s office declined to answer any questions about the case from The Washington Post.
But after Brochu’s court appearance, her attorney, Tom Stevens, told reporters that “there was nothing racial that motivated this,” according to the Courant.
Brochu, from Harwinton, was arrested and charged last month after telling police that she had been lashing out at her former dormitory roommate, Chennel Rowe, according to court records.
She told authorities that they had not been getting along, claiming her roommate had posted videos of Brochu sleeping and teased her about her snoring.
It had all come to light after Brochu allegedly wrote on Instagram last month that she finally “got rid of her roommate” after weeks of silent aggression.
The post stated that after more than a month of “spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons [on] her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn’t shine, and so much more, I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit, which was obtained by Heavy.
Court records allege that Brochu also posted pictures, including one of a bag stained with a “reddish brown substance” that she later said was “period blood.”
She admitted to police that she licked her roommate’s “plate, fork and spoon,” rubbed a used tampon on her backpack and mixed her lotions together, but she said that the other things she bragged about on social media did not take place, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Rowe, her roommate, recounted her version in a Facebook Live video this month, saying she had been experiencing a sore throat for several weeks. She told police that a nurse had advised her she had a “bacteria present in her throat” and she now suspects it was caused by “Brochu tampering with her personal items,” according to the court records.
Rowe said in the Facebook video that she learned about Brochu’s social media post when she was told about it by a former neighbor and two resident assistants as she was switching dorm rooms.
After the incident, University of Hartford President Greg Woodward said in a letter to the campus community that Brochu was no longer a student at the school.
“The incident has brought about accusations of racism, and I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration,” he wrote in a separate letter. “Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus. I pledge to do everything in my power to work with our community to address related concerns together.”
— Alessandra Martinez (@AlessandraNBC) November 21, 2017