Thursday, August 19, 2004
Guilty verdict: The Claremont-McKenna college professor who vandalized her own car, spraypainting racist epithets all over it, has been convicted of filing a false police report and attempted insurance fraud. She faces more than three years in state prison.
(Kerri Francis) Dunn, 39, left the courthouse without commenting. Her attorneys later issued a statement saying the professor maintains her innocence and will appeal.
Dunn will remain free on her own recognizance until her sentencing.
Prosecutors alleged Dunn staged the hate-crime hoax to rally the Claremont Colleges against racism and intolerance.
Her gold Honda was sprayed with racial and religious epithets March 9 in a parking lot at Claremont McKenna College. She reported discovering the damage after speaking at a forum on hate speech.
The vandalism followed a cross burning at Harvey Mudd College in January and another incident in which a racial epithet was scrawled on a picture of George Washington Carver, a renowned black agricultural researcher.
The colleges canceled classes for a day of anti-hate rallies a day after Dunn's car was defaced.
Police later came to suspect the professor damaged the car herself after two witnesses came forward and reported seeing her slash her tires and drive into a school parking lot in a car already marred by graffiti. Both testified against Dunn at trial.
I suspect that a sympathetic judge will probably let Dunn off with a slap on the wrist -- probation and a sizable fine. That sort of sentence would be a mistake. Dunn attempted to fan the flames of racism. She assaulted the psychological well-being of minority students by creating a climate of fear. Her fraud also falsely cast a cloud of suspicion every single white student on campus.
That sort of behavior deserves some time behind bars.