Lawyer: Ex-student charged in body fluids case isn't racist

Brianna Brochu, accused of contaminating her black roommate's belongings at the University of Hartford, addresses the court during a hearing, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Hartford. 

Mark Mirko/AP

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The lawyer for a former Connecticut college student accused of smearing body fluids on her roommate's belongings said Tuesday that he doesn't expect authorities to file hate crime charges.

Attorney Tom Stevens' comments came after former University of Hartford student Brianna Brochu appeared before a state judge in Hartford. The 18-year-old Harwinton resident is charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief and breach of peace.

Brochu, who is white, wrote on Instagram about rubbing used tampons on her black roommate's backpack and putting her roommate's toothbrush "where the sun doesn't shine," according to West Hartford police. She also called her roommate "Jamaican Barbie," and wrote that she put moldy clam dip in her roommate's lotions and spit in her coconut oil.

The roommate, Chennel Rowe, said she developed severe throat pain, saying in a Facebook post that's since gone viral she couldn't sleep or speak.

 WFSB 3 Connecticut

University health officials couldn't figure out what was causing it, Rowe said. They prescribed antibiotics for whatever was causing "bad bacteria" in her throat.  

NAACP members rallied outside the courthouse Tuesday and repeated their demand that prosecutors file felony hate crime charges. The group packed the courtroom for Brochu's appearance and some were told to stand in the hall, reports CBS affiliate WFSB.

Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy said Tuesday that investigators are reviewing additional information at the request of Rowe's lawyer. She would not elaborate. She said any decision on adding charges will be based on evidence and the law.

Brochu recently told the Republican-American newspaper that she acted foolishly but isn't racist.

Stevens said Brochu regrets her actions.

brochu.jpg

Brianna Brochu 

WFSB

"I think that when it's all said and done, what you're going to see is that there was nothing racist that motivated this," he said outside the courthouse. "These were two students who were placed together ... who didn't like each other ... and it escalated."

Brochu told police that she did put tampon blood on Rowe's backpack and licked Rowe's plate, fork and spoon, but denied doing anything else, authorities said. Brochu said she lied in the Instagram post in an attempt to "appear funny," a police report said. She said her actions were in retaliation for Rowe's "rude behavior" and Rowe posting videos of her sleeping and making fun of her snoring.

University President Greg Woodward last month called Brochu's alleged behavior "reprehensible" and said she is no longer a student at the school. He said a no-contact order was put in place and the case was immediately turned over to local authorities once the allegations were reported to university public safety officials Oct. 17.

"The incident has brought about accusations of racism, and I want you to know that I hear and share your anger and frustration," Woodward said. "Acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus."

Her court case was continued to Dec. 18.