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Virginia 3L Admits He Made Up Racial Profiling Claim; University Won’t File Charges

Posted May 9, 2011 6:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A third-year law student at the University of Virginia who wrote a dramatic letter to the editor saying he had been the victim of racial profiling now says he made up the incident to call attention to the problem.

The allegations by black law student Johnathan Perkins were published on April 22 in Virginia Law Weekly, the law school’s student newspaper, spurring an internal investigation by campus police. On Friday, the university released a press release saying Perkins has admitted he fabricated the incident, according to the Daily Progress, Virginia Law Weekly, Above the Law and Inside Higher Ed.

Perkins will not face criminal charges for filing a false police report because of fears it would inhibit others who want to complain about actual police misconduct, according to the press release posted by Virginia Law Weekly.

Perkins’ original letter to the editor was copied to the university chief of police. He told of being stopped by two white officers from the University of Virginia as he was walking home from a bar review session. Perkins described how the officers told him he fit the description of someone they were looking for, were sarcastic when they learned he was a law student, frisked him and followed him home. "As I stood there, humiliated, with my hands on the police car, my only thought was: 'There is nothing I can do to right this wrong,’ ” he wrote.

In the university press release, Perkins says he wrote the article to call attention to police misconduct and the events did not occur.

Perkins still could face a charge of violating the school’s honor code. A university spokeswoman told Inside Higher Ed that anyone could submit a charge of an honor code violation to the school. Any investigation, however, would be confidential.

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