Calif. Professor Convicted in Staged Hate Crime Case

August 20, 2004

A Claremont McKenna College psychology professor was convicted Wednesday of falsely reporting her car was vandalized and spray-painted with racist and anti-Semitic slurs while she was speaking at a campus forum on racial tolerance.

Kerri Dunn, 39, of Redlands, Calif., was convicted of one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report and two felony counts of attempted insurance fraud. She faces up to 31/2 years in prison when she is sentenced Sept. 17.

Her attorney, Gary S. Lincenberg, issued a statement saying Dunn would appeal the attempted insurance fraud convictions. The statement did not address whether she would appeal the false-report conviction.

The professor claimed her car was spray-painted and its tires slashed March 9. The report prompted college officials to cancel classes at Claremont’s five undergraduate campuses the next day as thousands of students took part in demonstrations calling for tolerance.

Dunn called her insurance company that day to report the vandalism.

She became a suspect after two witnesses reported seeing her vandalizing her car. Investigators also said she gave them conflicting reports about what happened.

Dunn’s attorney said the visiting professor never submitted a claim to her insurance company, and that the judge barred that evidence from being presented to the jury.

As for the false police report conviction, a Claremont College electrician identified a man who should have been the primary suspect, Lincenberg said.

Dunn, who remains on leave from Claremont McKenna College, maintains her innocence, he said.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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