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College student and racial equality activist faces felony charges after reportedly faking hate crimes against herself

Big trouble

Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

A female college student is facing felony charges after reportedly faking hate crimes against herself, according to Campus Reform.

What are the details?

California college student Dominguez Peña, 25, was reportedly discovered at the bottom of a campus stairwell, claiming that she was beaten by a masked man. She reportedly denied any medical assistance at the time, however, insisting that she wasn't able to trust anyone.

This was just one of many allegedly racially charged incidents Peña — a campus racial equality activist — alleged took place at the University of La Verne in La Verne, California.

Peña filed approximately 10 reports about being the victim of "racist attacks" and threats while on campus over the past year. Newsweek also reported that Peña even reportedly attempted to set her own vehicle on fire in an attempt to fake a threat.

In March, however, authorities arrested Peña and charged her with making criminal threats and perjury, both of which are felonies, the outlet reports. Authorities also charged Peña with seven misdemeanors including electronic impersonation and making falsified police reports.

Newsweek reported that one of the charges against Peña also included a felony count of perjury for reportedly filing a false claim to receive financial benefits from the California Victim Compensation Board. The California Victim Compensation Board is a program that provides assistance of up to $70,000 per case in order to help victims with "relocation, security, and medical costs."

"I appreciate you wanting to hear my side of the story. But for now I am unable to speak about anything, but maybe in the future," Peña wrote in a message to Newsweek.

KCBS-TV reported that if Peña is convicted on all charges, she could face up to eight years in state prison.

You can read more background on the case against Peña here.

What are people saying about this?

La Verne professor Judy Holiday told Campus Reform that Peña's allegations hurt the reputation of the school and its enrollees.

"It was very distressing to hear that a student fabricated racist threats, especially as those threats did so much damage to the reputation of other individuals and the university," she said. "It was also distressing to think about the fact that racism in the United States is so profoundly a part of the lives of people of color that a student felt compelled to do something illegal and immoral to bring attention to the problem."

Rod Leveque, the university's executive director for its office of strategic communication, expressed his gratitude for the local police department as well as the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in getting to the bottom of the allegations.

"The incidents last year were extremely upsetting to the university community," Leveque said. "We take a lot of pride in being a diverse and inclusive campus, and we hope that the conclusion of the criminal investigation will allow us to continue to come together and focus on our mission of providing an excellent education to our students."

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