LV Life Editor
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 the 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 DCULV, and allegedly received a series of threatening emails, texts and social media posts, which were 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 similar to the fraternity’s former president, in an apparent attempt to draw suspicion on the organization.
The La Verne Police Department found no evidence linking any fraternity members to the actions on campus.
University of La Verne President Deborah Lieberman said the University will take steps to improve inclusivity and diversity in the upcoming months by implementing discussion with staff and faculty.
“The actions of the accused, if proven true, threaten to undermine the sincere and necessary work we are doing as a campus community to address the very real issues of race and social justice that persist locally and nationally,” said Lieberman.
The police department’s 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 canceled classes on March 1, 2019, in order to address the threats and underlying environmental factors.
Dominguez Pena is currently being held in lieu of $136,000 bail in the Los Angeles County Jail. She faces time in prison as well as a fine if found guilty.
Andrew Alonzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liliana Castañeda can be reached at email@example.com.