Hate-crime hoax perpetrator found guilty

los angeles (jta) | A California jury found a psychology professor guilty of perpetrating a hate-crime hoax by vandalizing her own car with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti.

On Aug. 19, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury in Pomona found Kerri Dunn, then an assistant visiting professor at Claremont McKenna College, guilty of filing a false police report and attempted insurance fraud, which is punishable by up to 3½ years in prison.

When the apparent hate crime was initially reported on March 9, the Claremont McKenna campus and Jewish communities reacted with outrage, staging day-long sit-ins, teach-ins, forums and rallies.

During the trial, the jury was not asked to decide whether Dunn had vandalized her own car, but rather if she had filed false reports with the police and her insurance company.

After the guilty verdict, Gary Lincenberg, Dunn’s attorney, said that he intended to appeal the verdict because the judge had barred crucial evidence. Sentencing is set for Sept. 17.

As student president of the Hillel Council, D’ror Chankin-Gould, 20, had been one of the organizers of the early anti-racism protests.

Dunn’s conviction, he said, “doesn’t change the fact that we did the right thing. We responded vigorously to an anti-Semitic slur and we can be proud of that.”

Amanda Susskind, the regional Anti-Defamation League director, noted that “Fake hate crimes undercut what we do, they represent a kind of secondary victimization. We did get some letters saying, ‘You Jews made it all up.’

“But did we overreact? No, we had to react. And we are pleased that law enforcement took this very seriously, first after the incident itself and then in prosecuting Dunn.”