An 18-year-old freshman has been charged with fabricating the sexual assault incident that was reported to have occurred on the Seton Hall campus on Nov. 16.
Laura Siegel, a native of Williamsburg, Va., has been charged by the South Orange Police Department with making a false report about a sexual assault, according to a spokesperson from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The alleged sexual assault incident was reported to the University community via a broadcast e-mail sent on Nov. 17.
The e-mail stated a student had been sexually assaulted around 11 p.m. on Nov. 16 in the F-lot near Ivy Hill Park. The victim claimed a male suspect forced her to the parking lot where he sexually assaulted her.
On Nov. 19, a broadcast e-mail was sent to the community stating Siegel – unnamed in the e-mail – had recanted her story.
“The student who was involved in this incident has changed her report and indicated that she was not sexually assaulted by a stranger on campus,” the e-mail stated.
It was later reported by The Star-Ledger that the alleged sexual assault may have occurred off-campus. No additional details have been released by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office or the South Orange police. However, according to South Orange Patch, the Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed the investigation into the matter has ended.
Since these reports, and the return of students from Thanksgiving break, many around campus have addressed what has occurred.
“The Department of Public Safety worked closely with the South Orange Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office to thoroughly investigate this alleged incident,” Gary Christie, assistant director of Public Safety and Security, said.
Dr. Laura Wankel, vice president for Student Affairs, said the recent events have been “wrenching” for the University community.
“The University takes the filing of a false report extremely seriously,” Wankel said. “In such an instance the University will cooperate with law enforcement as well as adjudicate the matter through the University disciplinary system.”
Students have shown mixed reactions for Siegel – from pity to anger that she would fabricate the incident.
“I really feel bad for her, because according to the article she’s in the criminal justice program, so she knows the gravity of falsifying information, especially when she is regarded as an adult now,” Yasmin Elkarrimy, Student Government Assoication senator, said.
Junior Omar Ahmad felt the incident has ruined the University’s reputation.
“I was really upset at what happened,” Ahmad said. “It’s just upsetting that someone decided to do this and put the name of the school and the concern of its community at risk for something like that.”
Siegel’s current enrollment status at the University is unconfirmed.
“Someone came into work today and said she dropped out,” Elkarrimy said. “He said he knew her cousin and that this person had told him she had left Seton Hall.”
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Editor-in-Chief, Brian Wisowaty, contributed to this report.