March 11, 2004

Ithacan Receives Sentence for Concert Assault

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The Ithaca City Court sentenced Tiera E. Leckey, 21, one of the six Ithaca residents accused in the Nappy Roots and Ludacris concert assault incident last November, to a one-year conditional discharge and fines totaling $150, according to Tim Jecen, deputy chief clerk of the Ithaca City Court. Leckey previously pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment after the alleged assault erupted outside Barton Hall on Nov. 9.

Besides scars and bruises, the victim — a female Cornell junior — was left with 13 stitches on her mouth and a ruptured eardrum. These injuries could take over a year and a half to heal, the victim said last semester.

Linda Grace-Kobas, interim vice president for communications and media relations, said that the University did not have any comment on the sentencing yesterday.

“[We are] glad that the Cornell police, with the help of the Ithaca police, held a successful investigation,” she said.

The incident was originally investigated as a hate crime on the basis of the victim’s statements to police. The victim, who is Caucasian, told The Sun last November that over the course of their exchanges, the alleged assailants told her to “Get your white hair out of my face” and that “they were gonna fuck up my pretty white face.” At the time of the incident, the victim identified the alleged assailants as African-American.

After a full investigation into the events, the Cornell University Police Department, in a joint effort with the Ithaca Police Department, found that the incident was not “racially-motivated.” Police reports stated that “no one in their group used words that were bias or racial.”

In order for the incident to be classified as a bias crime, it would have to be determined that it was a crime perpetuated solely on the basis of race or discrimination, said Capt. Curtis S. Ostrander, deputy director of the CUPD told The Sun in November. Hate crimes are federal offenses warranting harsher penalties that those received from harassment.

According to the Ithaca Journal, Leckey said that “the girl in question was very aggressive toward us and we had to fight because of it.”

“I’m part white and I’m raising a bi-racial child,” Leckey told the Journal. “It’s an insult to call it a hate crime when it was an individual looking for a fight.”

Leckey couldn’t be reached by The Sun for further comment. In an interview with The Sun, the victim did not wish to comment further on the events or the sentencing as criminal trials are still pending.

While Lackey has pleaded guilty and has now been sentenced, another alleged assailant, LaToia S. Harris, 23, pleaded not-guilty to second-degree harassment. Two 14-year-olds charged with third-degree harassment still await trial.

Reports on how the incident began that night remain conflicting. According the Journal, one of the accused 14-year-olds stated that the contact outside of Barton Hall began when the victim was hit in the face by one of the minors and then again in the mouth with a boot.

In the wake of the sentencing, Cornell administrators are trying to assuage student concerns of violence.

“Everyone should feel safe on campus … where there is no violence of any sort,” said Robert L. Harris Jr., vice provost for diversity and faculty development, in a recent interview with The Sun. “I think its turned out [that] things are okay.”

Archived article by Brian Kaviar