Boston College students expected to stay in France despite acid attack

September 18, 2017 GMT

An acid attack on four Boston College students at a train station in France left the campus reeling, as French authorities sort through what caused a disturbed 41-year-old woman to target them.

The students — Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug and Kelsey Kosten — were treated and released from a French hospital without serious injury after the attack in Marseille yesterday and are expected to remain in Paris, BC spokesman Jack Dunn said.

“The feeling at this point is that they’re likely to continue their semester in Europe,” Dunn told the Herald last night. “Obviously, it was just such an upsetting incident ... People are relieved that it was in fact an isolated incident involving a mentally disturbed individual, and that it was nothing more than that.”

French authorities said yesterday they do not think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old alleged assailant, who police described as “disturbed.”

Dunn said the assailant hit all four BC students with acid but did not flee.

“The woman approached them and sprayed them, and then she sat down,” Dunn said. “And then the police came and arrested her.”

La Provence, a newspaper in Marseille, reported the woman remained at the scene to show officers pictures of herself with burns.

All but Kosten were studying as part of BC’s study abroad program in Paris. Kosten, a student at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, was visiting the other three, Dunn said.

In a Facebook post last night, Siverling said she did not receive any injuries, and thanked French police and the U.S. consulate.

“I pray that the attacker would be healed from her mental illness in the name of Jesus and receive the forgiveness and salvation that can only come from Him,” Siverling wrote.

Krug posted a Facebook message saying she and her friends anticipate a quick recovery, according to a report on the website of the campus newspaper, The Heights.

“Mental illness is not a choice and should not be villainized,” Krug wrote. “I’d like to thank the US Consulate, French police, and all of the wonderful people who helped us today and made us feel safe. Looking forward to continuing this incredible opportunity to live and study in France!”

Dunn said about half of BC students spend time studying abroad. He said the college is not planning on broader action in its overseas programs “in light of the fact that it appeared to be an isolated incident.”

“We’re not looking to do anything at this time, other than to assist our students who were involved in the attack,” Dunn said.

Kaufman and Krug are from New York, and Siverling is from Pennsylvania, Dunn said.

Kosten listed a Massachusetts address at the time of her enrollment this year, though Dunn could not specify which city or town. Her Facebook page says she graduated from high school in Colorado.

The attack took place around 11 a.m. local time at Marseille’s Saint Charles train station. The students apparently were on their way to board a train back to Paris when the attack happened, Dunn said.

All four were treated for burns, and one was expected to have an eye examination today, Dunn said, but all were expected to recover without serious complications.