A Princeton University student who argued that his conservative views were not accepted on the campus admitted fabricating an assault and sending threatening e-mail messages to himself and some friends who shared his views, authorities said yesterday.
Princeton Township police said that Francisco Nava was not immediately charged with any crime but that the investigation was continuing.
Nava claimed to have been assaulted Friday by two men off campus, police said. But he later confessed that scrapes and scratches on his face had been self-inflicted and that the threats had been his work, too, said Detective Sgt. Ernie Silagyi.
A spokeswoman for the Ivy League university said punishment, which could range from a warning to expulsion, was pending.
"The university takes all matters related to the safety of its community members very seriously," spokeswoman Lauren Robinson-Brown said yesterday. "It's particularly concerning that a student would fabricate such matters."
Nava did not respond immediately yesterday to an e-mail from the Associated Press, and a phone listing for him could not be located.
Nava, 23, a junior politics major from Bedford, Texas, found himself at the center of one campus controversy recently when he wrote a column for the student newspaper criticizing the school for giving out free condoms, which he said encouraged a dangerous "hook-up culture."
Shortly after, Nava made his first report to the university public-safety office that he was receiving threatening messages in his campus mailbox. A friend says Nava told him one message read, in capital letters: "ONE MORE ARTICLE AND YOU WON'T LIVE TO SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY."
Nava is a member of the Anscombe Society, a conservative student organization. Other members who have spoken out against premarital sex and same-sex marriage said they had received threats similar to those that Nava said he had gotten. So did Robert George, a professor in the politics department.
Robinson-Brown would not say exactly how the university had responded to the threats. But she said that, in general, when students are threatened they are given access to counselors, assured that the campus security force will take their calls right away and can be moved to new dorm rooms.
Another student wrote in the campus newspaper Friday that the threats Nava had received had not gotten the same forceful response as anti-gay graffiti that appeared this semester outside the dorm rooms of some gay students.
Brandon McGinley called it a double standard, which made it seem OK to "use intimidation tactics to silence the voices of morally conservative students."
But the threats, like the attack, are apparently a hoax.
"Everyone feels saddened, shocked and surprised to have been dragged along in this," McGinley said. "We're all extremely concerned for [his] mental state."
McGinley said it was a surprise that Nava, who was a resident assistant in a dorm and a member of a campuswide committee on religious life, would be involved in such a hoax.
But he said that after the purported attack, Nava's friends began comparing notes and found some inconsistencies in what he had told them about the threats and the attack. He said they had told authorities about them. *