Sometimes a news report isn't all that it seems. Three University of Albany students — Alexis Briggs, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell — who claimed they were victims of a racially fueled attack on a bus last month have now been charged with assault after prosecutors said they were, in fact, the attackers in the incident.
CNN reports that the three 20-year-old students all appeared at Albany City Criminal Court on Tuesday to be arraigned on charges of assault in the third degree. Agudio and Burwell are also facing charges of false reporting, harassment, and criminal mischief for a fake 911 call they made after the incident.
The three young women initially claimed that they were attacked on a bus on January 30 in a racially motivated assault. Turns out, the three women were the perpetrators, assaulting a 19-year-old woman.
The trio plan to plead not guilty to the charges. Several weeks ago, Burwell tweeted out, saying, “The truth will come out soon.”
“The evidence indicates they were actually the aggressors in the physical altercation, and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them,” a police statement reads. It goes on to read that the three women were never “targeted in any matter due to their race,” and that “the only person we heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants.”
Agudio’s attorney, Mark Mishler, told CNN that the charges against his client were “unwarranted,” adding that Agudio is an “exemplary young woman and an excellent student.”
The initial report that the three young women had been attacked led to national outrage, a campus-wide rally in support, and even a tweet of support from presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who posted, “There’s no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus.”
A local news station covered the revelations on the case, and interviewed local social rights activist Alice Green, who said, “I wouldn’t lock them up or anything ... but if it came to be that there were false claims made, I think there needs to be an apology.”
(Photo: News10 via ABC)