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Cuomo ‘appalled’ at Gouverneur hate crime allegations, calls for state probe

GOUVERNEUR — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the State Division of Human Rights to investigate the alleged hate crime that occurred on a bus transporting Gouverneur Central School students.

“I am appalled by the reports of the horrendous, 20-minute racist assault on a 10-year-old African American girl in the town of Gouverneur,” Cuomo said in a press release. “That this was allegedly perpetrated by her own classmates, on a school bus with an adult monitor present, makes this incident even more shocking and troubling. When we put our children on the bus to school, we are entrusting others with our most precious resource and this was an egregious and inexcusable violation of that trust.”

A Monday news release from Gouverneur Chief of Police Laurina Greenhill said the alleged victim was left with a black eye, bruises and missing hair after her two classmates beat her up on a school bus.

The students accused of the assault, ages 10 and 11, and a bus monitor who stood by idly as the attack unfolded, have been charged. The 11-year-old is facing felony hate crime charges, because of racially motivated language used during the incident, police said.

Police said the only adults on the bus were the driver and the monitor, Tiffany N. Spicer, 28, of Edwards, who is employed by First Student.

“In the face of the recent rise in hate crimes and discriminatory acts, this summer I signed legislation that expanded the authority of the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate incidents of discrimination in public schools, including on school buses,” Cuomo said. “I am directing DHR to open an investigation into this heinous act immediately, and, if applicable, to take legal action to the fullest extent of the law against the perpetrators. I am also directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to provide local authorities with any resources needed to assist in their investigation.”

The charged children and their parents have been referred to St. Lawrence County Probation for further action.

The two juveniles have each been charged with a count of misdemeanor second-degree aggravated harassment. The 11-year-old child is additionally charged with felony third-degree assault as a hate crime.

A third-degree assault is a misdemeanor, but adding a hate crime elevates it to a felony.

Spicer is charged with three counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child. She was issued tickets returnable to town court.

“In New York, violence of any kind towards others based on their race or religion is not only offensive and repugnant to our values, it is illegal,” Cuomo added. “We will never allow hate to win — we will defeat it and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to help ensure all our children are safe from hate.”

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