A federal investigation revealed that a racist rape threat against a University of Chicago student activist was actually fake, written by the student’s friend to gain support for their cultural-sensitivity initiatives.
Freshman Derek Caquelin posted a threat against junior Vincente Perez on his own Facebook wall on November 18 — and then claimed a racist hacker must have done it.
Perez had co-written a petition earlier in November demanding that the university address cultural-sensitivity issues after he saw students wearing Mexican Halloween costumes that had offended him. The petition’s demands included “a mandatory cross-cultural competency program” and faculty “diversification.”
Caquelin’s Facebook page makes it obvious that he is an activist for the same campus initiatives and causes as Perez. In fact, he often directly shares Perez’s own posts on cultural diversity issues.
The media spoke highly of Perez when the rape threat came out.
“Perez became a victim of the very violence he was trying to prevent when a friend’s Facebook page was hacked and someone posted an explicit threat,” a local NBC affiliate gushed after the “rape threat” came out.
“I was very literally scared to leave my house,” Perez told the news source at the time.
But last week, the school released a statement clarifying that the investigation had made it “clear that nobody broke into the Facebook account in question,” and that “the owner of the Facebook account [had] claimed responsibility for the posting.”
In a November 24 Facebook post, Caquelin admitted to faking the threat and claimed to have acted alone. He acknowledged that what he had done was wrong, but also insisted that he only did it to advance awareness of cultural problems.
“I made the wrong decision after being harassed about the problems I have tried to discuss not being real and wanted to show you all they are real,” he said.
And it doesn’t seem like Perez is too upset about it. He told the school’s student newspaper, the Chicago Maroon: “Someone felt they had to show something extreme to get people to care. Think about that. This is not a justification. But think about what the weight of apathy can force people to do.”
UChicago Electronic Army, which Caquelin had tried to frame for the threat in the post, is a misogynist hacking group that had allegedly hacked into a student fashion organization’s website last month to make sexual-assault threats.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.