GREAT BARRINGTON — Despite inconsistencies in a student's account of an attack at Bard College at Simon's Rock in late September, police and prosecutors say there isn't enough evidence to press charges against the female student for making a false report.
In a Friday afternoon statement, a spokesman for the Berkshire District Attorney's office also said that police have closed the investigation, citing the student's refusal to cooperate with Great Barrington Police, State Police detectives, as well as a private investigator hired by the college.
DA spokesman Andrew McKeever said that inconsistencies between the student's story and the evidence "call into doubt that an attack occurred as alleged."
It's unclear whether the student is still enrolled at the school. College Provost Susan Lyon could not be reached for comment Friday.
The college was swept into a crisis after the 18-year-old student reported she was knocked unconscious and dragged into the woods. The daylight attack was reported at around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 27, and followed several weeks of unrest on the campus upon the discovery that the N-word had been scrawled on a chalkboard in the student union, and a swastika was found etched in a bathroom stall.
Because the student was a person of color, fear that a racist attacker was on the loose coursed through the campus. Classes were canceled the following week, and many boarders left for home. Campus security and police stepped up patrols. And amid a massive investigation that included extensive forensics, an assailant was not identified.
The reported attack and hate speech graffiti fueled a crisis at the school over safety and racial tensions that students say had been looming long before the incidents.
The Black Student Union made a list of demands that the administration agreed to, including a number of safety measures like surveillance cameras. And the NAACP's Berkshire Branch held its November meeting on the campus to act as a support to students.
According to the DA's office, law enforcement devoted "significant resources to investigating this matter given the disturbing nature of the report and the concerns over potential racial motivations for the attack."
Because of the possible racial component, the investigation triggered notification to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Heather Bellow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871,