Investigators Conclude Emory Student Concocted Tale of Racist Harassment
ATLANTA (AP) _ A black Emory University freshman who claimed that she was the victim of racist threats apparently made up the incidents herself, state investigators belive.
A threatening letter purportedly sent to Sabrina Collins contained a grammatical error that she commonly makes, was typed on the sort of typewriter used where she works, and had no identifiable fingerprints on it but hers, said a file on the case made public today by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
″Based on the circumstances, chain of events, case facts, evidence in the case and the interview (with Ms. Collins) conducted by the reporting agent, in all probability Sabrina Collins was responsible for writing these racial remarks and threats herself,″ said an interview summary contained in the file.
On Thursday, DeKalb County prosecutors said there was no evidence anyone had harassed Ms. Collins but stopped short of saying outright that she had fabricated the threats. One official said the GBI report showed evidence Ms. Collins suffered from ″emotional problems.″
The report issued today, which had been provided to county prosecutors earlier, comes to no formal conclusions but contains finding of investigators who examined the case.
Ms. Collins’ attorney, James Howard, said Thursday he still believes someone harassed his client.
Ms. Collins, a 19-year-old pre-medical student at the predominantly white school, was hospitalized after she collapsed and became mute April 10. Her family said she had lifted a rug in her room and found the words ″die nigger die″ scribbled in nail polish on the floor.
Ms. Collins earlier had reported incidents in which pictures were broken, bleach was poured on some of her clothes, stuffed animals were mutilated and the phrase ″nigger, hang″ was found written on the wall in her closet.
Emory police first said they couldn’t understand how the incidents continued after they installed an alarm in Ms. Collins’ room. They later theorized that someone had entered the room only once, concealing some of the vandalism so it would be discovered later.
Ms. Collins, who was released from the hospital after she recovered her speech, has maintained her innocence. She said earlier, ″I have nothing, had nothing, to gain in doing this. I had everything to lose.″
On Thursday, DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson announced that he concluded that ″no felony has been committed either by or against Ms. Collins.″
He added, ″There is insufficient evidence to support Ms. Collins’ allegations of anonymous threats and harassment.″ And he said, ″There is substantial evidence which contradicts Ms. Collins’ allegations.″
County Solicitor Ralph Bowden, who would have jurisdiction over any misdemeanor charges in the case, characterized the university as the victim and said he felt Ms. Collins needs ″counseling and treatment, not prosecution.″
Bowden said he doubted that Ms. Collins could be convicted for falsely reporting a crime, ″particularly in light of what appears from (the GBI file) to be very serious emotional problems on her part.″
In the file, agents said that the threatening letter, which Ms. Collins said she received through the campus mail, contained this phrase: ″I bet your wondering why I picked you.″
‴Your’ as opposed to ‘you’re’ is a grammatical mistake that Sabrina frequently makes,″ the case file said. ″The typewriter used to type the letter is the same type as typewriters in the library where Sabrina works. All identifiable fingerprints on the letter were Sabrina’s fingerprints. The fingerprints pattern on the letter indicates Sabrina put the letter in the typewriter and removed it.″
Emory spokeswoman Jan Gleason said university officials do not intend to press charges against Ms. Collins. Emory is a private university whose enrollment of 9,500 is about 7 percent black.
Howard maintained that his client did not concoct the harassment.
″It is apparent that the person who inflicted this pain and suffering upon her is not only free to do it again but has succeeded in evading the investigation,″ Howard said in a statement issued Thursday.