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Prosecutor on why hijab-wearing student wasn't charged for hate-crime hoax—when another woman was

The chief assistant prosecutor of Michigan's Washtenaw County answers why a hijab-wearing University of Michigan student wasn't charged for her hate-crime hoax when a fellow student was. (Image source: YouTube screen cap)

Two University of Michigan students concocted hate-crime hoaxes in the days following Republican President Donald Trump's election in November — a period of time when other "crimes" that badly reflected on the future administration turned out to be fabricated.

One of the UM students claimed a white man cut her face with a safety pin in Ann Arbor on Nov. 15; she was charged and pleaded guilty to making a false police report.

The other UM student falsely claimed that on Nov. 11 a white man in Ann Arbor threatened to burn her if she didn't remove her hijab — a head scarf often worn by Muslim women.

But prosecutors declined to press charges against the hijab-wearing student, who was never named.

The student who claimed a white man cut her face with a safety pin — 21-year-old Halley Bass, who appears to be white and reportedly is no longer a UM student — was charged with a misdemeanor and faces up to 93 days in jail and/or a $500 fine, the Michigan Daily reported.

However, the unnamed hijab-wearing student faced a felony for her fabrication since the crime she reported — ethnic intimidation — is a felony, MLive reported.

Her false claim also got the attention of the FBI, which put in time to assist local law enforcement — and it stirred up other students, who held a candlelight vigil in its wake:

In addition, MLive reporter John Counts noted in the comments of his story on Bass' guilty plea that after he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request on the hijab-wearing student's case, Counts noticed her name was redacted in the report.

TheBlaze contacted Steven Hiller, chief assistant prosecutor for the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office — which handled both cases — to find out why Bass was prosecuted and the hijab-wearing student wasn't.

Hiller told TheBlaze that despite perceived similarities, each case is handled "on its own merits" — and in the end, he said moving forward with a prosecution in the case of the hijab-wearing student was "not in the interests of justice."

"That determination was made by a veteran prosecutor," Hiller told TheBlaze. "I then reviewed the case and concurred with the reviewing prosecutor’s decision." As for naming the hijab-wearing student, Hiller said she "was not the subject of a criminal charge" and therefore "her name was not and will not be released by this office."

As for Bass' case, Hiller told TheBlaze the "facts and circumstances ... were different and such that the reviewing prosecutor determined that proceeding with a misdemeanor charge was proper. I have reviewed that case as well, and I also concur with the decision. Because a criminal charge was filed in that case the defendant’s name is part of the public court record."

TheBlaze also asked Hiller if there were concerns in his office that moving forward with a prosecution against the hijab-wearing student might be interpreted as attacking Muslims or Islam — and he said no. Hiller added to TheBlaze that no such hypothetical influenced his office’s decision to not prosecute the woman.

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