White Freshman Charged with Alleged Harassment of Black Roommate – and Showrunner Shonda Rhimes Reacts
Brianna Brochu, 18, was arrested for mischief and breach of the peace but police say they will pursue a hate crime charge
A white female college freshman is facing a criminal charge after allegedly boasting on social media about covertly harassing her black roommate to the point that she moved out, PEOPLE confirms.
The allegations – deemed “deeply disturbing” and “reprehensible” by University of Hartford President Greg Woodward in a statement – have led to the expulsion of the white student, Brianna Brochu, 18, and a flurry of support and concern for the alleged victim, Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe, who made the episode public in a video posted earlier this week that went viral.
Brochu, 18, appeared but did not comment in Hartford Community Court today following her arrest Saturday on breach of peace and criminal mischief charges, and was ordered to stay off campus and not contact her former roommate, reports the Hartford Courant.
A West Hartford Police spokesman said the agency would seek to have her further charged with felony intimidation based on bigotry or bias, reports The New York Times.
Her case was continued to a Nov. 15 court date. Attempts by PEOPLE to locate Brochu or an attorney on her behalf were not immediately successful.
The video made by Rowe about the alleged harassment has since gone viral with Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes tweeted, “That this type of ignorant hate can flourish in 2017 tests my faith in humanity?”
Police arrested Brochu on Saturday and she allegedly admitted to police that she had licked her roommate’s dining utensils and smeared bodily fluid on her roommate’s backpack using a tampon, according to the Courant. She told police her actions were a response to “a ‘hostile environment’ caused by [the victim’s] rude behavior, not compromising, and posting Snapchat videos of me sleeping and making fun of me snoring,” according to a police report.
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In the video posted by Rowe, Rowe went further in reporting the alleged harassment, describing an exchange with Brochu that began when Brocho asked if Rowe was moving out and Rowe said “yes”, reports The Miami Herald.
Right away, Brochu allegedly began writing on her phone. Minutes later, Rowe was alerted by two resident assistants to look at her own phone to see Instagram images allegedly posted by Brochu in which Brochu claimed credit for pushing her roommate out.
“Finally did it yo girl got rid of her roommate!!” stated an alleged now-deleted Instagram post by Brochu, as shown in the video posted by Rowe. “After 1 1/2 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.”
In a Facebook post Rowe responded: “As a young African American woman I don’t want to become another statistic. When it comes to college incidents/crimes and racial cases justice needs to be served.”
Rowe told police that she had “felt ostracized by Brochu” since the start of the school year. In her video, Rowe says she had gone to the doctor experiencing throat pain and was told it was “some type of bad bacteria” that she now thinks may have been connected to Brochu’s alleged boasts.
On Wednesday, Brochu was expelled from university.
“As of this morning Brianna Brochu is no longer a student at the University of Hartford,” Woodward said in his statement today. “She will not be returning to the institution,”
He added: “It is clear there is work to be done at our University to be sure that all students feel safe, respected and valued. The conversations that began with student groups, faculty and staff yesterday are going to continue and involve our full community.”
The university first learned about the allegations at 11:48 p.m. on Oct. 17, and within 90 minutes had notified West Hartford Police, Woodward said.
In an earlier statement, Woodward said: “The incident has brought about accusations of racism, and I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration. Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus.”
Jail records show Brochu already had been released on bond after being charged with the misdemeanors of third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of the peace. An attorney was not cited in those records, and it could not be determined whether one had been named to her defense.