Student Accused Of Setting Fire To Another Student In NYU Dorm


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York University is setting the record straight on its investigation into a student who allegedly set another student on fire over the summer.

The university on Wednesday admitted that it made a mistake in not immediately reporting claims that 20-year-old Jaime Castano set a female classmate on fire in an NYU dorm and then recorded her putting out the flames.

Castano was arraigned Tuesday on assault and reckless endangerment charges. He was expelled from the school in September in connection with the case.

According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the victim said she was in Castano’s dorm room at 80 Lafayette St. with Castano and a third person, when she fell asleep around 11 p.m. Aug. 23.

The next morning, she said she awoke to find holes and burn marks to the comforter on the bed, burns on her clothes, and painful burn marks on her torso, prosecutors alleged.

Castano allegedly admitted to the woman that he set fire to the blanket and caused her injuries, which allegedly caused scars, prosecutors said.

According to court papers, Castano took cellphone video showing the woman asleep in his bed with her clothes engulfed in flames. The video also showed the woman waking up and trying to put out the flames while Castano recorded it, prosecutors said.

But the victim did not come forward to police for two months, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

NYU said in a statement “From the very beginning, the University spoke with the victim about involving the police.”

But the university also admitted the delay in reporting the incident to police stemmed from its practice to give deference to a victim’s wishes whether to involve authorities.

“The University, from the outset, took this case very seriously. After the University was notified about the incident, we rapidly pursued a disciplinary case that led to the expulsion of the assailant, the statement said.

“In retrospect, at least when the facts became clear, this case clearly should have been reported to the police, not withstanding the reluctance of the victim. We are conducting a full investigation as to how a different decision was made in this case and clarifying our decision-making process so that cases like this are reported to the police immediately in the future.”

NYU students were shocked after learning about the incident.

“I’m sure the student was traumatized and she didn’t know what to do,” said Saumya Mody. “At that point the people in charge have to step up and be like this is what you do.”

“Even deferring it to the student is kind of irresponsible because what if she’s scared to go to the cops because he’s her friend,” said Shahana Yesman. “That’s not a good reason to not to get the cops involved.”

“I think the university should have acted as soon as possible to protect their student’s safety,” said Victor Li.

Castano was ordered held on $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash bail during arraignment on Tuesday.

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