The Right Coast

April 27, 2004
Claremont McKenna Professor Formally Charged with Hate Crime Hoax
By Gail Heriot

Kerri Dunn, the visiting professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College who claimed that she had been the victim of a racist and anti-Semitic hate crime, has now been formally charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office with filing a false police report and insurance fraud. Her original allegation that her car had been vandalized by someone who wrote racist and anti-Semitic slogans on it triggered anti-racism/anti-anti-Semitism protests and a one-day shut-down of the Claremont Colleges back in March before she was found to be the perpetrator herself.

When I was working for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary a few years ago, a bill to expand federal jurisdiction over hate crimes was pending before the Senate. I did a little informal research on some of the more spectacular hate crime allegations and found that, although it is true that serious and despicable hate crimes occur, it is also true that false allegations are made with regrettable frequency. The Tawana Brawley case is only the most well-known of these. I've no recollection whether criminal charges like these were brought in these previous cases. It sounds like a good idea when it can be proven.