ROMEOVILLE (STMW)– Two female African-American Lewis University students are suing three fellow students for hate crimes after the men allegedly dropped a noose in front of their dorm room window and sang a song telling the girls to lynch themselves.
Shortly after midnight on April 16, 2009, roommates Danielle Bell and Lorraine Wolfe, both 23, heard thumping noises coming from the dorm room above theirs at Lewis University, a Catholic university in Romeoville, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.
When they went to the window to investigate, the men in the upstairs room – including defendants Matthew McCormoch, and Daniel Rusch, both currently of Schaumburg, and Michael Lisman, of Kansas City, Mo. – yelled racial slurs, sang a song with the lyrics “hang yourself / lynch yourself / go to the back of the bus,” and dropped a rope in front of the plaintiffs’ windows, the suit states.
The women yelled back that they were calling the police, at which point the defendants pulled the rope up and lowered it again tied as a noose, the suit states.
The lawsuit claims that Bell, then a senior, and Wolfe, a junior, suffered emotional distress, suffered academically and incurred financial loss. The women moved to another dorm room, the suit states, but “continued to be afraid and were unable to finish their classes that semester.”
The defendants faced criminal charges. Each pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for the incident, the suit states.
The plaintiffs claim the men violated the Illinois Hate Crime Act are seeking $50,000 in damages for one count – violation of the Illinois Hate Crime Act – as well as court costs.
Roughly 10 percent of Lewis University’s 5,500 students are African-American, the suit states.
A representative of the university – which is not a defendant in the suit – was not immediately available for comment Friday evening.
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