UNC officials: student wasn't hate-crime victim, may face charges

The Department of Public Safety has determined that the alleged aggravated assault reported to campus police April 5 did not occur, officials said.

Quinn Matney, a freshman, told police that a man grabbed his wrist and burned him early in the morning April 4 on the Craige Residence Hall footbridge. Matney said Monday that the attack left him with third- and fourth-degree burns.

Because his report was found to be false, the University will not report it as a hate crime, officials said. Officials have declined to comment on the motive behind Matney’s false account.

Billy Kluttz, co-president of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance, declined to comment on the incident. He said the group will not comment until after its Wednesday meeting when it will have a better understanding of the facts.

Jeff DeLuca, the group’s other co-president, also declined to comment.

In an email, UNC spokesman Mike McFarland said charges could be pending for Matney.

“The only other thing I can share is that the student is still enrolled at the University and charges are likely against him based on what the chancellor reported in the email,” he said.

Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center, confirmed that Matney could be facing charges. She said she will be having several meetings with students and administrators to discuss moving forward from the incident.

“The way this has played out should in no way deter anyone who experiences harassment from coming forward and coming to the police,” Phoenix said.

In the campuswide email, Thorp said it is important to realize that incidents of harassment do occur.

“When they do, we take them seriously,” he wrote. “We strive to foster a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment at Carolina.”

Though the report of the incident was false, Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs, said he is under the impression that Matney did go to Campus Health Services for treatment.

“I think it would be disingenuous to say there wasn’t some frustration,” he said. “We have a campus police force that I have confidence in. The challenge that we have is that we live in a world where people are often simulcasting.”

Crisp added that he has no reason to believe anyone other than Matney was acting dishonestly.

“There was no assault,” he said. “I think that’s all I can feel comfortable I can say.”

Crisp, who was planning to meet with GLBTSA on Thursday in reaction to the incident, said he is still willing to attend the group’s public forum.

“I will still be open to doing something if that group feels like it’s still warranted,” he said.

Thorp’s full email reads as follows:

April 12, 2011 5:53:00 PM EDT

Message from the Chancellor: Police Determine False Report in Aggravated Assault Case

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Department of Public Safety has determined that the alleged aggravated assault reported to campus last night did not occur. That report, filed with campus police on April 5, was false. The University will not report it as a hate crime.

It is important to recognize that incidents of harassment do occur. When they do, we take them seriously. We strive to foster a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment at Carolina.

We recognize that this has been a difficult time for campus. Members of the community who feel they need to discuss what has happened are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office at 919-966-4042; Counseling and Wellness Services at 919-966-3658 or 919-966-2281 after hours; LGBTQ Center at 919-843-5376; Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at 919-962-6962; or Human Resources’ Employee Assistance Program at 919-929-2362

Sincerely,

Holden Thorp

Assistant University editors Andy Thomason and Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.

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