BRIDGEPORT, Conn.(CN) – In an ill-advised Halloween prank taken from a movie, a student at Quinnipiac University dialed another girl’s dorm room and told her, “You will die in seven days.” The caller was then arrested and expelled.
In a complaint in Federal Court, the caller, Courtney Stellweg, who was then 19, says she made the prank call after dialing at random on Oct. 28, 2008, using a line from the movie, “The Ring,” according to her complaint. Stellweg claims that “spoofing parodies” of the threat “were almost universally known to college students in the fall of 2008.”
According to the complaint, Stellweg’s prank call was answered by black women on the basketball team who happened to be in the room of a Hispanic resident assistant, to whom the call was randomly made.
Shortly after placing the call, Stellweg and another student were arrested by campus security and charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, and conspiracy to commit harassment, according to the federal complaint. Within a day, Quinnipiac University President John Lahey publicly accused the two callers of hate crimes and dismissed them from the university.
Stellweg claims that Lahey sent out several defamatory emails, saying she and her fellow pranker had been dismissed for hate crimes, and that Lahey called a student assembly at which he said the two callers are bigots.
Stellweg claims Lahey’s remarks were defamatory, and he has refused her request for a retraction.
Stellweg claims that Quinnipiac has been publicly criticized for a number of racial incidents, including one in which members of the men’s basketball team urinated on a female student in 2006, but those students were not expelled.
Stellweg says that incident was followed by several in 2007 and 2008 in which racial and ethnic slurs were inscribed on doors, notebooks and elsewhere in the university’s dorms.
Stellwag and her parents seek damages and return of tuition, fees, and room and board for the 2008 fall semester. They are represented by Paul Brozdowski.