A leader of a social justice group at the University of La Verne in southern California claimed last year that she was threatened and attacked on campus — leading the school at one point to shut down classes for a day to “reset” and deal with the threats, police noted.
But cops now say Anayeli DominguezPena made it all up — and now she’s in hot water.
What are the details?
The La Verne Police Department said it investigated a series of threats initially targeting the student group and its members, adding that a series of nine additional incidents followed the initial threat of February 28, 2019. Cops said most of these threats were delivered electronically via emails or texts — and they also were directed at the college and at DominguezPena herself.
Police said initial and subsequent threats used the logo of a fraternity and identifiers of the fraternity president to focus suspicion on the fraternity and its president — but the investigation found no evidence implicating the fraternity or any of its members.
“I think she was trying to instigate some racial issues within the university,” La Verne Police Chief Nick Paz told the Daily Bulletin. “She was sending messages to certain people, and the comments that were being sent were of a racial nature.”
DominguezPena — who no longer attends the school — also found a smoking backpack in her parked car on March 1, 2019, which led to the school canceling classes, the Daily Bulletin added, citing police.
She allegedly sent seven threats via email or social media plus a note, Detective Bob Nishimura told the paper, adding that he couldn’t confirm if DominguezPena made up a May 28, 2019, attack against her at a dorm or if she put the smoking backpack in her car.
What happened to DominguezPena?
After an extensive investigation, police issued a warrant for DominguezPena’s arrest Friday. The 25-year-old was charged with criminal threats, a felony; internet/electronic impersonation, a misdemeanor, and six misdemeanor counts of filing false police reports.
DominguezPena was arrested Monday, the Daily Bulletin said. Police said she was booked into the Los Angeles County Jail system on $200,000 bail.
In addition, she was charged with felony perjury for applying for compensation from the California Victim Compensation Board, Nishimura told the paper. The board provides grants to crime victims, the Daily Bulletin said, adding that the criminal complaint shows the alleged perjury occurred March 27, 2019.
“We found the suspect applied for benefits, signed forms under penalty of perjury, and tried to get victim compensation benefits from the state,” Nishimura added to the paper.
Police used digital evidence, such as computer files, cell phone data and data on the cloud to determine that DominguezPena was the person sending the threatening messages, Nishimura said.
DominguezPena denied all the charges at her arraignment at Pomona Superior Court, the Daily Bulletin said, citing Los Angeles County District Attorney spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
If convicted as charged, DominguezPena could get a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, Santiago told the paper, which added that her next scheduled hearing is April 14.
The Daily Bulletin said her attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.
Police said the investigation concluded that DominguezPena acted alone and no other members of her student group were involved with the criminal acts. Cops added that one of the victims associated with these cases was another student leader of the threatened group who didn’t appear to have any knowledge of the suspect’s actions.
What did the school have to say?
The University of La Verne’s statement on the matter indicated the school “took these incidents extremely seriously, canceling classes, dedicating significant resources to supporting those who were impacted, and providing additional safety measures to the campus community.”
“The actions of the accused, if proven true, threatened to undermine the sincere and necessary work of addressing the very real issues of race and social justice that persist locally and nationally,” President Devorah Lieberman said as part of the statement. “We will not be deterred in that work. We are committed to moving forward together here at the University of La Verne to make positive changes on our campuses and in our community.”
More from the school’s statement:
Over the past year, the university has implemented mandatory diversity training for all faculty and staff; required training addressing unconscious biases and equitable practices for all persons serving on search committees; offered workshops for faculty on how to create inclusive environments and implement diversity and inclusivity framework within curriculum; strengthened the office of Diversity and Inclusion through the hire of a new assistant director ; and opened the Ludwick Center for Spirituality, Cultural Understanding, and Community Engagement.
It isn’t clear if the school’s diversity and bias training and related measures were prompted by the alleged hoaxes DominguezPena is accused of.
Tell me that old, old story
As TheBlaze has extensively reported, hoaxes perpetrated in order to draw attention to social issues are nothing new. Here’s a look at 20 recent hate crime hoaxes.
(H/T: The College Fix)