Teacher Gets Prison in Hate Crime Hoax
A former psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College was sentenced Wednesday to a year in state prison for spray-painting her car with racist and anti-Semitic slurs and claiming that unknown vandals had done it.
Kerri Dunn, 40, of Redlands had faced up to three years’ imprisonment.
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Martin Bean said he was satisfied with the punishment handed down by Superior Court Judge Charles Horan in Pomona. “I think it’s important that people see that you can’t go out and fake crimes for your own personal reasons,” he said.
Dunn’s attorney, Gary S. Lincenberg, said his client insists that she did not vandalize her car on campus on March 9. She told police she discovered the damage, which included slashed tires and a shattered windshield, when she returned from a forum on racial tolerance.
“Prof. Dunn ... will be appealing this matter,” he said.
She was arrested after two witnesses told police they saw Dunn vandalize her vehicle and after investigators found inconsistencies in her statements.
A jury convicted her on Aug. 18 of two felony counts of attempted insurance fraud and one count of filing a false police report.
Horan ordered Dunn to pay the college nearly $19,500 in restitution, mainly for stepped-up security patrols that were ordered after the attack and for replacement instructors after Dunn was placed on leave.
An administrator said the harm from the faked hate crime went beyond monetary loss.
“That event last spring was very disturbing for the community,” said Torrey Sun, vice president for student affairs. “I’ve been here 26 years, and we have never seen anything that disruptive.”
The reported attack initially sparked widespread demonstrations and canceled classes at the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven undergraduate and graduate institutions in Claremont. It drew nationwide attention.
Dunn said she was targeted because of her statements urging students to fight discrimination.