A former University of La Verne student has been charged for making racially motivated threats and for posing as a victim of these threats, and an alleged racially motivated hate crime during spring semester 2019, La Verne police announced during a Monday press conference.
Anayeli Dominguez-Pena, a 25-year-old Ontario resident, is facing charges including criminal threats, perjury, internet/electronic impersonation and six counts of filing false police reports.
In February 2019, Dominguez-Pena said her backpack was found smoking in her car. She also claimed to be attacked by a person wearing a ski mask in the stairwell of the Vista La Verne dorms later that May.
These incidents followed a series of online threats against member of a student group Decolonize ULV, which had held numerous protests during fall semester 2018 to shine a light on their experiences of discrimination and racism at the University, and demand change.
Dominguez-Pena was one of the leaders of Decolonize ULV, and she had apparently been on the receiving end of a series of threatening emails, texts and social media posts also sent to other members of the group.
“The threats were serious enough that after the first threat, the university made a safety plan for a couple different victims involved,” said La Verne Police Department investigator Robert Nishimura.
Some of Dominguez-Pena’s threats used the logo of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and speech designed to be similar to the fraternity’s former president, in an apparent attempt to draw suspicion of the organization. The La Verne Police Department found no evidence linking any fraternity members to the actions on campus.
The police department’s year-long investigation found that Dominguez-Pena acted alone throughout the series of acts beginning with the 2019 car fire. The threats Dominguez-Pena sent out began escalating to the point where ULV cancelled classes on March 1, 2019, in order to address the threats and underlying environmental factors.
Dominguez-Pena is currently being held in lieu of $200,000 bail in the Los Angeles County Jail. She faces time in prison as well as a fine if found guilty.
– Andrew Alonzo, Lilliana Castañeda