GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A quick decision to pick up something that didn’t belong to her, has gotten a graduate student expelled from school.
Michelle Ilyayev told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Friday that she was trying to return a lost iPad to its rightful owner, and instead wound up getting expelled from Adelphi University two months before being awarded a master’s degree in social work.
“I look down and see an iPad and say ‘geez, someone left her stuff behind,'” Ilyayev said. “All I was trying to do was be a good Samaritan.”
She claims that she found the iPad on the floor of a classroom and picked it up to turn it in to security. It was the first day of a new semester and Ilyayev said that she did not want to be late for class, so she took the iPad with her. Two hours later security tracked the iPad to Ilyayev’s book bag and arrested her.
“I said, ‘I’m going to return this after class.’ I didn’t know there was a time limit to returning something,” she explained.
Now, Ilyayev is suing Adelphi University, alleging that they denied her due process. She’s also facing criminal charges of petit larceny.
When reached for comment, Garden City police and Adelphi University refused to comment, citing the lawsuit, but in Ilyayev’s letter of expulsion the university cited six witnesses who testified at her disciplinary hearing, along with statements that Ilyayev made to police.
“This guy is saying into my ear, ‘You seem like a nice girl, admit it and you won’t get expelled, it will go a lot quicker,'” she said.
Her defense attorney, Thomas Liotti, told CBS 2 that Ilyayev is being punished based on hastily drawn conclusions.
“She had no legal representation; faculty, security, they all jumped to conclusions. She was going to turn it in and had no intent to take it,” he said.
The expulsion could have a serious effect on Ilyayev’s future. She can’t get admitted to another school or get her social work license.
“I would never steal from someone. I’m a social worker. I help people. It’s just terrible. I’m trying to move on and become a social worker and I can’t,” she said.
Ilyayev is still studying for the social work licensing exam, and hopes that another school will let her finish her degree.
Adelphi’s vice president for communications told CBS 2 that as a matter of policy the university does not comment on ongoing litigation.
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