Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 51
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
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After Police Investigation, PU Student Admits to Fabricating Assault Claim

Matthew Hersh

A Princeton University junior who claimed to have been assaulted for his conservative beliefs has now admitted to Princeton Township police and campus security that the incident was part of an elaborate hoax.

Police confirmed Tuesday that Francisco Nava, 23, completely fabricated a story that he was attacked by two white males wearing ski masks while visiting a friend Friday evening at Princeton Community Village in Princeton Township. Mr. Nava, according to police reports, reported that a white male called Mr. Nava over to him asking for assistance. Mr. Nava then allegedly told police that as he followed the person to an empty field off Tupelo Row, a second assailant grabbed him, pinned him against a wall, and hit him in the face.

Mr. Nava was taken to the University Medical Center at Princeton for treatment of scratches and abrasions to his face. He was later released.

It turns out that the wounds were self-inflicted, leading police to uncover a series of fabricated incidents that culminated in Friday’s bogus attack.

Back in police headquarters on Monday, after police approached him with inconsistencies in his report, Mr. Nava admitted to making the whole thing up and to fabricating the e-mailed death threats he received, according to Township Police Det. Sgt. Ernie Silagyi.

Charges are still pending, Sgt. Silagyi said. For now Mr. Nava could face the charge of filing a false police report, a misdemeanor offense, according to Sgt. Silagyi, that could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and community service, and possibly minimal jail time.

The New York Times Tuesday reported that Mr. Nava belonged to the Anscombe Society, an organization that, according to its Web site, is “dedicated to affirming the importance of the family, marriage, and a proper understanding for the role of sex and sexuality.” Mr. Nava was also a member of the university’s Religious Life Council. Members of the Anscombe society received identical e-mail death threats last week.

University spokesperson Cass Cliatt confirmed that the school’s public safety department is conducting an investigation, and while she could confirm that University students had received threatening e-mails, school policy precludes releasing the students’ identities.

Mr. Nava could face disciplinary action from the university ranging from a verbal warning to outright expulsion, Ms. Cliatt said. “It was very concerning that a student would fabricate such an incident, and we will continue to provide support to other individuals affected by this incident,” she said.

Ms. Cliatt said the University offers counseling and support groups from the Dean of the Chapel offices and the Office of Undergraduate Services for students suffering an excessive level of stress that could lead to incidents like the one involving Mr. Nava.

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