Oct. 3 incident not being investigated as hate crime
By Sondra Murphy
As of Oct. 31, the vandalism incident that occurred on the Villanova Preparatory School campus Oct. 3 is still under investigation.
“The DA’s office has asked for more follow-up investigation and we’re hoping to have it wrapped up in a couple of weeks,” said Ojai Police Department Administrative Sgt. Maureen Hookstra. “We had a meeting with Villanova and the representative from the DA’s office reviewing the case. The school is being apprised of our status and so is Nordhoff.”
Villanova’s football field, pool and marble statue of St. Thomas of Villanova were reportedly vandalized with blue and gold paint, manure, salt and bleach. Slogans were also reported to have been painted on various surfaces, but details will not be released until the investigation is complete.
Villanova staff was able to clean up most of the mess quickly, with the exception of the statue. The marble proved very absorbent and Villanova is contacting specialty companies for help in removing the residual blue tint.
Seven Nordhoff students were subsequently suspended in connection with the incident, but names have not been released pending police investigation out of concern that it could compromise the case. Not all suspected vandals are Nordhoff students.
As reported in the Oct. 8 issue of the Ojai Valley News, Sheriff’s Detective Mark Burgess said that, contrary to rumors circulating throughout the community, the vandalism is not considered to be a hate crime. No further specifics have been given by investigators regarding the issue, but according to California Penal Code 422.7, hate crimes are defined as criminal acts against an individual or group because of actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.
Under felonies, P.C. 422.7 lists a hate crime to be the “commission of a crime for the purpose of interfering with another’s exercise of civil rights.” P.C. 594.3 specifies, “Vandalism of place of worship based on racial or religious bias.” P.C. 11412 reads, “Threats obstructing exercise of religion.”
Based on the information OVN has received to this point about the vandalism, religion was not the motivating factor in the incident, but misplaced school rivalry.
The OVN will run updates as information about the case is released.