This student, from Toronto, was facing deportation for a hate crime. He got community service instead.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports:
Prosecutor Drops Hate Crime Charge, Cornell Student Sentenced to 75 Hours of Community Service
John P. A. Greenwood ’20 struck a plea deal with the county’s top prosecutor on Tuesday and agreed to complete 75 hours of community service in what amounted to a substantial reduction of the charges the prosecutor brought five months ago, when he accused Greenwood of a hate crime.
Greenwood, 20, of Toronto, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation. He will have to pay $700 to replace a student’s damaged phone, will be on a one-year conditional discharge and will need to stay away from the victim in the case.
District Attorney Matthew Van Houten said he had consulted with the victim, Solomon Shewit ’19, a black Cornell junior, when deciding to drop the three misdemeanor charges — including the one hate crime charge — against Greenwood. Van Houten said Shewit wanted to focus on his time at Cornell and avoid the “continued stress of this litigation.”
“Based upon extensive discussions with the victim and with the approval of his parents, we agreed to resolve the case in this manner instead of proceeding to trial,” Van Houten said.
The prosecutor said the legal side of the charges is “extremely complex” and that details of the altercation had placed the strength of the criminal case into question.
“The fact that the victim, who is a person of color, pursued the defendant onto the defendant’s property, with the intention of confronting Greenwood about his offensive language, creates a level of doubt whether the victim was selected based upon his race,” Van Houten said. “Additionally, alcohol was a significant factor in this altercation.”
Van Houten said “there is no excuse for such deplorable behavior” at Cornell or anywhere else and acknowledged that members of the community may want to see a harsher sentence for Greenwood.
But Van Houten said people should not allow their emotions “to outweigh an objective analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence” and that “we cannot substitute our own feelings for those of the victim, who fully supports this resolution.”
Sitting in the lobby of a hotel in downtown Ithaca on Tuesday morning, Greenwood’s lawyer, Ronald P. Fischetti, told The Sun that the sophomore “never struck” the victim and that he “never should’ve been charged.”
“It’s very simple,” Fischetti said. “He just didn’t do it.”
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