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University of Kentucky student pleads guilty to role in Capitol riot

After she is sentenced, Gracyn Courtright, who withdrew from classes shortly after the riot, will appear in front of a university board that will determine her academic future.

WASHINGTON (CN) — A University of Kentucky senior who attempted to steal a “Members Only” sign near the Senate chambers in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot pleaded guilty to her role in the riot on Monday, during an emotional plea agreement hearing with a federal judge in Washington. 

Gracyn Dawn Courtright, 23, had to withdraw from the University of Kentucky, where she was studying mathematical economics, shortly after Jan. 6, when she entered the Capitol building, joined the crowd in chanting “whose house, our house,” and took a “Members Only” sign which was later taken back by law enforcement. 

“You a little nervous? You doing okay?” U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper asked Courtright at the beginning of the hearing. “Take your time.”

“Yes, I’m just shaky. I’m sorry,” Courtright responded, choking up. 

Cooper asked Courtright about school, college basketball and her jobs in college, before Courtright pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully and knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building and grounds, 

Courtright faces up to six months in prison, though most rioters who have entered into misdemeanor plea deals have avoided jail time

Courtright was born and raised in West Virginia before moving to Kentucky for college. During an interview with the FBI, Courtright’s father confirmed that his daughter had gone to Washington, D.C., and would cooperate with law enforcement. 

“Can’t wait to tell my grandkids I was here,” Courtright said on Instagram shortly after the riot, posting a photo of her in front of the Capitol building. 

Gracyn Courtright posted this message on Instagram shortly before deleting her social media accounts. (Image via Courthouse News)

Courtright left an extensive social media trail after the riot, posting on both her Twitter and Instagram accounts before deleting both accounts. She said she never saw any violence, only peaceful chanting. 

In an exchange with a friend on Instagram, who reported Courtright to the FBI, Courtright said that she “thought it was cool” because “it’s history” and that she didn’t know what treason was. 

“Infamy is just as good as fame. Either way I end up more known. XOXO,” Courtright posted in her last Instagram story, according to court documents. 

Courtright’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18, though it’s unclear whether the hearing will be in person or virtual, as neither Courtright nor her parents are vaccinated — and have “no intention of getting vaccinated,” according to Courtright’s attorney Thomas Abbenante. 

“Is your vaccination status likely to change between now and Nov. 16?” Cooper asked in Monday's hearing. 

“Probably not, your honor,” Courtright replied. 

Once Courtright is sentenced, she will go before a University of Kentucky board to determine her future with the school. 

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