Over the course of the weekend, athletic officials for Brigham Young University tossed out a fan for allegedly using racial slurs at a Duke University volleyball player. However, it doesn’t seem that this was actually what happened. Could this be yet another “hate crime” hoax?
According to TheBlaze, the incident immediately started trending all across the United States after Lesa Pamplin, who claims to be the godmother of Duke volleyball player Rachel Richardson, stated on social media that Richardson was a victim of racism, being called the N-word “every time she served.” Pamplin then said that Richardson was “threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus.”
The story then revealed that Richardson made a statement later on in which she said, “my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe.”
Richardson then said that BYU officials were made aware of the incident and the threats, but, according to her, “failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.” The college volleyball star then repeated these same claims during an interview on Tuesday with ESPN.
But here’s where things really start to get interesting.
Here are more details via TheBlaze:
BYU police, who investigated the incident, determined that the fan who was banned for yelling the racial slurs was not, in fact, the person who shouted them, the Salt Lake Tribune reported — and further stated that they had yet to find any evidence that anyone shouted them at all.
“When we watched the video, we did not observe that behavior from him,” BYU Police Lt. George Besendorfer told the newspaper.
BYU associate athletic director Jon McBride confirmed that university officials came to the same conclusion. He said:
Various BYU Athletics employees have been reviewing video from BYUtv and other cameras in the facility that the volleyball team has access to for film review. This has been ongoing since right after the match on Friday night. The person who was banned was the person identified by Duke as using racial slurs. However, we have been unable to find any evidence of that person using slurs in the match.
At the time of this writing, there has been absolutely no evidence proving that anyone used racial slurs during the game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Students who were there say they never heard that or any other racial slurs being used or directed toward the players.
A BYU student-run newspaper called the Cougar Chronicle, cited several students on the record who were sitting in the student section of the game and attest to never having heard any slurs used.
“Indeed, Besendorfer has confirmed that no student who sat in the section where the slurs allegedly came from — nor anyone who attended the volleyball match, for that matter — has come forward to report the person who hurled epithets,” the report said.
What’s more, “[Besendorfer] also said no one has come forward to say they heard the slur being shouted during the match,” the Tribune went on to report.
The Tribune obtained a copy of a police report which revealed that officials from BYU placed a law enforcement officer close to the Duke bench after they were made aware of the slurs. However, no one seated in that section identified the individual making slurs. The officer also did not hear any sort of racial slurs being used.
“BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe has also said that four ushers and an officer were sent into the stands to identify the person making the slurs. But no one was found,” the report said.
“It turns out the person whom BYU banned was identified by Duke personnel. Police spoke with him, but he denied making slurs. He confirmed he did approach Richardson after the game, mistaking her for someone he believed was his friend. And despite the lack of evidence against him, the police report said BYU officials wanted to ban him anyway,” TheBlaze reported.
After local law enforcement was not able to confirm the individual BYU officials banned as the person who made the slurs, Besendorfer stated that BYU officials then took over the investigation.