ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey woman pleaded not guilty Monday to making false threats against fellow blacks at the university she previously attended.
Kayla-Simone McKelvey, of Union Township, appeared at a brief court proceeding Monday to face one count of creating a false public alarm. She didn’t comment afterward.
Prosecutors contend the 24-year-old participated in a Nov. 17 rally on racial issues at Kean University and then went to a campus library computer and posted anonymous threats on Twitter against black students.
Investigators said McKelvey then returned to the rally and tried to raise awareness about the threats.
The charge against McKelvey carries a maximum prison term of five years, but her attorney said her lack of any criminal past could earn her probation. The lawyer, Thomas Ashley, cautioned Monday that even a probationary term could include about a year in jail.
“I don’t believe 364 days as a condition of probation would be an appropriate sentence,” he said. “She has no prior record, and she has an impeccable background.
“She is quite remorseful,” Ashley added.
Ashley said he planned to apply for McKelvey to be admitted into a pre-trial intervention program that would allow her to avoid jail time. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 28.
The November rally at Kean came in the wake of racial protests at the University of Missouri and other college campuses.
Security was increased at the New Jersey college after the threats were discovered, though classes weren’t affected. But the threats did lead a group of black ministers to call for Kean President Dawood Farahi to resign the following day, saying that the threats showed that he hadn’t done enough to address alleged racial tension on campus.
The school responded that the claims of racial tension were baseless.
Following the arrest, Kean released a statement saying it was “saddened” to learn a former student and rally participant was allegedly behind the threats.
“As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others,” the school said. “We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community.”
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