Zachary Tennen, Michigan State Jewish Student, Not The Victim Of Hate Crime: Prosecutor, Anti-Defamation League

In this undated photo provided by Bruce Tennen, Zachary Tennen, a 19-year-old Michigan State University sophomore, is shown.
In this undated photo provided by Bruce Tennen, Zachary Tennen, a 19-year-old Michigan State University sophomore, is shown. Police say an attack on the Michigan State University student at an off-campus party is not being investigated as a hate crime. Tennen told East Lansing, Mich., police his attackers asked if he was Jewish, and when he responded "yes," he was punched in the face. Tennen, from the Detroit suburb of Franklin, was recovering Tuesday from jaw surgery. He says the assault took place early Sunday at an off-campus party. (AP Photo/Provided by Bruce Tennen)

A Jewish college student who claimed he was attacked by skinheads who saluted Hitler was not the victim of a hate crime, according to a county prosecutor and the Anti-Defamation League.

When Zachary Tennen, a sophomore at Michigan State University, was attacked at a party in August, he claimed it was a hate crime. He said he was asked if he was Jewish by men with shaved heads who punched him, broke his jaw and knocked him unconscious. Tennen and his family said the men stapled his mouth shut, and no one attempted to intervene.

However, when police investigated, they found little to support the charge.

Stuart Dunnings III, Ingham County’s prosecutor, recently echoed that opinion in interviews with reporters.

"There is no indication at all that this was a hate crime... None. Zero," Dunnings told the Lansing Journal. "I think it's a shame when one person makes an allegation, and everyone takes it as the truth and gets up in arms about it."

Witnesses didn't deny there was an attack, but told police a version of that night which differed from Tennen's account. Witnesses also did not see anyone staple Tennen's mouth shut.

Last week, the ADL's Michigan office said they don't believe it's a hate crime either.

“Based on interviews with more than 50 witnesses who were at the party that night," ADL Detroit Regional Director Betsy Kellman said in a statement, "the East Lansing Police have apparently concluded that while the student was a victim of a serious physical assault, the evidence does not support his claim that the assault involved anti-Semitic hate speech or gestures, nor does it indicate that the incident was motivated by his religion.”

Police said they have an 18-year-old suspect in mind, but his name has not been released. He is not facing any charges currently. The apparent motive for Tennen's attack being struck has not been released, the Journal reports.



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