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Expelled student who harassed black roommate not racist, lawyer says

The lawyer of a former Connecticut college student accused of smearing bodily fluids on her roommate's belongings said he doesn't expect hate crime charges to be filed.
Brianna Brochu, accused of contaminating her black roommate's belongings at the University of Hartford, addresses the court during a hearing on Nov. 21, 2017, in Hartford.Mark Mirko / The Courant via AP, pool

The lawyer for a former Connecticut college student accused of smearing bodily fluids on her roommate's belongings said Tuesday that he doesn't expect authorities to file hate crime charges.

Attorney Tom Stevens' comments came after former University of Hartford student Brianna Brochu appeared before a state judge in Hartford. The 18-year-old Harwinton resident is charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief and breach of peace.

Brochu, who is white, wrote on Instagram about rubbing used tampons on her black roommate's backpack and putting her roommate's toothbrush "where the sun doesn't shine," according to West Hartford police. She also called her roommate, Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe, a "Jamaican Barbie" and wrote that she put moldy clam dip in her roommate's lotions and spit in her coconut oil.

Rowe said in a Facebook Live video that she developed "extreme throat pain" and doctors couldn't diagnose an illness.

NAACP members rallied outside the courthouse Tuesday and repeated their demand that prosecutors file felony hate crime charges.

Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy said Tuesday that investigators are reviewing additional information at the request of Rowe's lawyer. She would not elaborate. She said any decision on adding charges will be based on evidence and the law.

Brochu recently told The Republican-American newspaper that she had acted foolishly but isn't racist.

Stevens said Brochu regrets her actions.

"I think that when it's all said and done, what you're going to see is that there was nothing racist that motivated this," he said outside the courthouse. "These were two students who were placed together ... who didn't like each other ... and it escalated."

Brochu told police that she did put tampon blood on Rowe's backpack and licked Rowe's plate, fork and spoon, but denied doing anything else, authorities said. Brochu said she lied in the Instagram post in an attempt to "appear funny," a police report said. She said her actions were in retaliation for Rowe's "rude behavior" and Rowe posting videos of her sleeping and making fun of her snoring.

University of Hartford officials said Brochu is no longer a student at the school and will not be returning.

“Let me be clear: The accused student’s behavior was reprehensible and does not reflect the values of our institution,” President Greg Woodward said in a statement. “Let me repeat; racism and hatred will not be tolerated on this campus.”

Her court case was continued to Dec. 18.