Princeton U. Student Admits to Faking Attack Against Himself

December 17, 2007

A student at Princeton University who claimed that he was the victim of vicious e-mail messages and a physical assault because of his conservative views admitted last week that he had fabricated the story, the Associated Press reports.

Francisco Nava, a junior, confessed to local police officials that scrapes and scratches on his face were self-inflicted, and that he had sent threatening e-mail messages to himself, to fellow members of Princeton’s socially conservative Anscombe Society, and to Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence at the university.

Brandon McGinley, a fellow student and columnist for The Daily Princetonian, told the AP: “Everyone feels saddened, shocked, and surprised to have been dragged along in this.” In the campus newspaper on Friday, Mr. McGinley had accused Princeton officials of not taking the threats against Mr. Nava as seriously as they had taken anti-gay graffiti that appeared outside some students’ dormitory rooms this semester.

A spokeswoman for the university told the AP that administrators had not decided how to discipline Mr. Nava, who is 23. Mr. Nava, a politics major and resident assistant from Bedford, Tex., has not been charged with any crime.

Fake reports of racially and ideologically motivated attacks are not new in higher education. Such hoaxes unsettled several campuses in the late 1990s, and a professor at Claremont McKenna College vandalized her own car in 2004, claiming she was the victim of a hate crime. —Sara Lipka