The three University of Albany students — two from Long Island — who upstate prosecutors said falsely claimed they were victims of a racially motivated attack on a bus in Albany because they are black have been indicted, authorities said.
Asha Burwell of Huntington Station, Ariel Agudio of Huntington and Alexis Briggs of upstate Elmira Heights, face charges of misdemeanor assault, falsely reporting an incident and harassment in connection with the Jan. 30 incident, according to news reports and a statement from Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares.
Their attorneys could not be reached for comment.
The women, all 20 years old, are scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment Wednesday in Albany County Court before Judge Stephen W. Herrick.
The indictments amount to a sharp reversal of fortune in the case, which began when the three students reported to police that at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 30, while aboard a bus on the University of Albany campus, authorities said, they were attacked by more than 10 white students, who struck them and shouted racial slurs.
Shortly after the initial claims, which were disseminated through social media, the campus erupted in outrage in support of the alleged victims. Students and faculty rallied to support the women, who said they were attacked because they were black and that they sought “justice.”
But surveillance footage of the incident from the bus and cellphones suggested the accusers were actually the attackers.
Indeed, Soares said that all three defendants “did allegedly cause physical injury to a 19-year-old female passenger by means of repeatedly striking her.”
Further, the prosecutor’s statement said: “Agudio attempted to cause physical injury to a 19-year-old male passenger by means of striking him repeatedly. It is also alleged that Agudio attempted to assault and had physical contact with two other female bus passengers, ages 18 and 20.”
It added: “Burwell is also charged with allegedly having physical contact with a 19-year-old male bus passenger.”
Agudio faces third-degree assault, third-degree attempted assault, third-degree falsely reporting an incident and second-degree harassment, Soares said.
Burwell faces third-degree assault, third-degree falsely reporting an incident and second-degree harassment, Soares said.
Briggs faces third-degree assault and third-degree falsely reporting an incident, Soares said.